Each richly brown and languid-eyed patient I meet
evokes a tale, faithful or not? No matter to me.
Of reluctant heroes from a bygone era
of Jim Crow and a Civil Rights conflagration
They are children of strange fruit left dangling from limbs
straining the heart of the ironic live oak tree,
forgotten chattel, sustaining a feast for flies,
their gagged cries still haunting our restless sleep
Their limbs now curtailed by surgeon’s steel
As the sugar’s insidious scourge lays siege,
til there’s nothing but a cold memento, a stump,
reminder of a body once lithe and lean
Imagine: once his black-gloved fist thrust high
an anvil on a podium festooned with gold and bronze,
silencing Key’s Banner with a somber din;
pity, hailed for speed, not his glorious color
Entombed in a ward of malignant blight,
her crypt animated by the red devil poison
slyly coursing through sclerosing veins;
all-the-while waging a futile battle
Once this High Priestess of Soul mourned his plight.
as The King of Love was silenced in Memphis.
Take to the streets and unleash your fury;
civil disobedience vanquished: ‘Nuff Said!
The Reverend awaits His imminent embrace
as he is chained to a lifeless placenta;
arms riddled with old fistulas run dry
like obsolete gnarled tree roots
Down at the 16th Street Church you hear:
Nothing! His sermon muted this week.
“A Love That Forgives” was blown to bits,
leaving Birmingham afire with four slain girls
Nearly three score hence in a Charleston Church,
have we learned nothing? I fear so.
The blood of hate spilt across His altar
is a stark reminder of the chasm remaining
In life’s gloaming their faintly living remains,
in beds form a procession of caskets on wheels,
traverse hospital halls in an ironclad fate,
to the last sojourn, to be wrapped in pall
You diminishing scions of an effete era,
from a time of discontent and daily martyrs,
may peace finally grace you at day’s last light
as the torch is relit, the struggle bequeathed to sons and daughters
Eulogy of the Scions of Jim Crow
Carol Wiley Cassella, M.D., served as Handling Editor for this submission.
Accepted for publication August 23, 2016.
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Eric Hanson; Eulogy of the Scions of Jim Crow. Anesthesiology 2017; 126:753–754 doi: https://doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000001357
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