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First Highway Drive in America by Mervyn Seivwrigh

Driving in America passing palm trees,

Florida’s grassy green marshlands, counting

mile-markers in the rear seat of a gray

station wagon with my brother. He

and I navigating a map longer

than our arms, playing magnetic checkers

and chess, reading, counting red cars

and navigating again. Across

 

the Georgia border, dirt is dusty red

on hills edging fields of floating

cotton. The radio in Atlanta

reports that 19 black boys and girls

our age were missing or dead. We navigated

 

our car without ceasing across

the Georgia-Tennessee line. A Big Boy

restaurant wasn’t as friendly

as the statue with static wave and smile

out front. Entering the door, a stage curtain

opens, ninety-four eyes fixate—our family

stops at entrance scared from the shadow

on our skin.

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