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Friday, October 24, 2008


A fable for our time; a nod to James Baldwin.

by Earl J. Wilcox

Many years ago, a few colonies
surfaced on the front lawn, under
the cherry tree, smaller communities
popping up, citizens gaining new
courage, building and staying put
instead of letting the property go
to ruin when times were hard.

Just a few years ago, more
neighborhood families, several
buying into local real estate—
near the front stoop, in the petunia
patch, colorful habitats in the mounded
hills underneath the crape myrtles,
dogwoods, green spring grasses.

This year, serious staying power
in the loamy soil of beds, red clay
enclaves with hundreds of ebony
citizens, speaking up at board
meetings behind the old pear tree,
church gatherings in rotting pots
beside the carport. We have
learned our myrmecology lessons
well this season: give them room,
space to be seen, heard.

Feeling their sting does no one good.

Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he has contributed 41 poems to the New Verse News.