Poem: Roots

mb37-Roots1 At the end of the Civil War my great-grandfather walked four hundred miles back home to Georgia and gave up his gun. Said he’d seen enough dead men and beasts in those four years to cure a man of hunting, forever.

Not too long after that he stumbled in the night upon four men in sheets about to lynch a Negro. In those days one knew all one’s neighbors. He yelled, “What you plannin’ to do with that man?” They yelled, “Kill him!” He said, “You do, and I’ll turn your names in to the authorities, every last one of you!” They said, “You do, and we’ll shoot you, too!” They did. The next day, he did. And that night, as he sat with his family at supper, they did.

Emily Whittle


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