TO VINCENT AND ROSEMARIE HARDING
And to Rachel and Jonathan
And to Rosemarie Harding.
Long SNCC meeting at the Smokey rib joint
Miss Baker sitting by the door for some fresh air,
Another quiet presence lower down, back against the wall
Seat flat against the dusty floor. Both leading, non-Moses like.
Who comes to challenge these two for quiet of the month, the Year?
Who's this usurper contesting for silence and peace?
A solid, placid faced man the color of fine polished furniture
Bigger than us little Snickers, a gold pair of professorial glasses
Perched up there above a modulated baritone that preached, but
Mostly taught with the sound of educated Harlem and the mid-West, not the South,
Though he was comfortable and comforting here.
Vincent was Vincent and Rosemarie more often when he and she
Took over Spellman history and sociology. He and she, she and he, had,
like many of our adults, worked stints with De Lawd
Both the one above and the one across Auburn Avenue.
Like our other quiets,
Baker and the Moses man and Hard (white southern pronunciation)
Zinn and Connie, who only qualified as grown because we were
All so green, Vincent and his love guided by indirection.
Take their speech for the King at the Riverside April 4,
the day Before my birthday,
a day that we had longed for when He would
Speak on the unspeakable.
Vincent and Rosemarie gently lead
While Kwame and Cleve, John and Jim, and us pushed
nonviolently from behind.
SNCC folk sat on the front row at Ebenezer church while
Martin Declared the government is the greatest purveyor of violence in
the world today.
Another two years on April 4th our best King would die on the balcony.
Our faces brighten when we encounter Vincent
and less often, the Rose
and we are sad to lose among us her sweet counsel.
But we ll all be with her and each of you at Grease's
Place or where ever else we gather in our hearts.
Copyright © Bob Zellner, 2004, all rights reserverd.