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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 11/21/20

Happy Saturday!


The L.A. Philharmonic, performing Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 1 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in “Salon Los Angeles”:

Postmodern Jukebox singing “Mr. Blue Sky”:

And “All About That Bass”:


Today, I’m sharing a poem published in the Southern Humanities Review, written by Sharon Spira-Cushnir’s cousin.


By Amy Elisabeth Davis

In memory of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner,

and the other slain heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.


We’d never seen colored sheets.

My mother said, go ahead,mix

them. I chose all three, slept with lemon,

tangerine, and raspberry—swirled

ices in a summer meadow. The brook

ran quiet. Picking our way upstream,

stones dry, treads of moss not slippery,

we looked only for branches that hung

low. In that season of drought,

the curve of the stone dam beside

the double A-frame dried

the path below it. Well empty,

we carried drinking water

from a nearby inn, swam in its pool,

sat with a martyr’s parents hiding

from reporters. Having come

for water, we stayed as company.


Despite dry ground, it was the summer

of blueberries. The fifth of July

the four-year-old from down the gravel road

skipped into our living room to tell us

the sky had filled with lights the night

before. They were every single color!

Bouncing, she waved her arms and sounded

small explosions. Braids flying loose, she

tumbled from her piled-up pillows to the floor.

It was the summer I bought Bob Dylan LPs

and blue jeans at the IGA in town,

comic books at the drugstore, and pedaled

early Sunday mornings with my father

to the one-store village up the mountain

for orange juice and the Sunday New York Times.

Pressing the unwieldy paper tight atop

the basket, holding it against the wind,

I sped back down with one or no hands steering.


We waited for news

from Mississippi, land

of white sheets worn

by night riders

in automobiles. Only

the children hoped.

A father, knowing he had lost

his son, sat with the boy

whose father had come

for water. Nathan Schwerner,

face carved by grief, explained

confusing moves in chess.


July ran down, and sunsets

came earlier. Rain appeared,

made firs smell stronger.

The spill behind the wall of stone

became a swimming hole that poured

once more to fill the narrow bed

of Haystack Branch. We learned

to sleep with brook now tumbling

loudly over dam, remembered

how to look for stable footfalls

on our way upstream.

In the steep banks, spreading roots

slowly pushed through mud. Pulled

in moisture. Picked up forgotten tasks

of crumbling rock and pushing

smaller pieces into moving water

that eroded, smoothed,

and polished every pebble as it rolled.


August. After forty-four days,

from a red clay dam in Mississippi,

from Old Jolly Farm, three bodies,

the Black man’s whipped by chains,

made their way to headstoned rest.

Nights grew longer, and up north,

the summer people folded covers,

unmade beds, packed fishing rods

and books, and headed home.

I have often looked for,

but have never found, such

colors as my mother did that sad

July. I have never understood

how blueberries grew so round

when water fell so late.

As we contemplate global warming, COVID and other existential challenges, Fire and Ice, by Robert Frost, comes to mind:

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice

I think I know enough of hate

To know that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Have a happy weekend,


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