Anthony Walton

McDonald’s, Scottsboro, April, 1997

The white girl smiles
and hands me
my meal, perfectly
happy, it seems,
to see a black
man smiling
and accepting
a warmed-over
quarter-pound of meat
with cheese.
I am on the road,
rolling through
Jackson County,
here for food and gas
on my way
to Tennessee.
The way her pink
and silver-ringed
fingers touch mine –
so benign, as if time
and the town were
as innocent as she.
What is this to me,
who needs to eat
and keep moving,
to be in Tennessee
by midnight? I resolve
to leave history
behind, resuming
my journey, the ride
up U.S. 72 into
and through Jackson
County, into what I fear
and only remember,
and only remember here.

Anthony Walton
McDonald’s, Scottsboro, April, 1997 appeared in Rainbow Darkness: An anthology of African American Poetry (Miami University Press, 2006).