Frank X Walker

Fire Proof

Thelma de la Beckwith
He would come home
from evening rallies and secret meetings
so in love with me
I could never see nothing wrong
with what he did with his hands.
I just pretended I didn’t know
what gunpowder smelled like
or why he kept his guns so clean.
If he walked through that door
and said, “Thelma, burn these clothes.”
I’d pile them on the coals and stare
at the fire. I’d listen to the music
twix the crackle and calm as we danced.
And while the ashes gathered ‘round
they own kind in the bottom of the grate
I’d watch the embers glow like our bedroom did.
Now, I ain’t saying he was right or wrong.
He often confused hatred with desire.
But if you ain’t never been licked
by flames in the middle of the night
honey, you got no idea what I’m talking about.

Frank X Walker
“Fire Proof” is from No More Fear: The Rebirth of Medgar Evers.