She didn’t give up her seat on that crisp December day
deep in the south, deep in our history. I wonder what
went through her mind as she sat quietly on the bus in the seat
that was rightfully hers; sat quietly waiting to be arrested. I wonder
whether she hummed an old spiritual while rocking like a nervous
teapot on a gas burner; or whether she cussed the bigotry
that dictated she stand when her feet hurt; or if she prayed for a pardon
for her attitude that would grudgingly change attitudes. Probably not.
I think she felt a chill on her soul from fear of what might happen next.
I think she worried about when she would get home. If she would get home;
how she would let anyone know where she was.
I would have worried about what in the name of Jesus I had just done.
About the kind of treatment I’d get in jail from folks who wouldn’t even
let me sit down on a bus. That’s what I’d be thinking sitting there alone
while the wind-blown street grit stuck to the window like dirt
under fingernails; while yellow-eyed crackers were calling for my hide.
But she sat there settling in like silent prayer. She did not give up her seat.
She did not give up her dignity as she faced the man alone
without a choir of amens and not a single you go, girl to comfort her.
And she did not give up her faith, a mustard seed she hurled against Injustice.
Faith that would someday lay that tyrant at her tired feet.