HomeSouthern VoiceDown the Alley

Down the Alley

by Robert Baylot

In 1963 a black woman walks down an alley
Toward Jackson Road (now Martin Luther King),
Determination in her chin,
Her gaze down at her feet and darting now and then.

She watches her long dress scrape the dirt,
Observes her heavy shoes powering her slowly ahead.
She disappears each day as she finds her way
Into the house where she cooks breakfast
For someone else and cleans their house.
For years, for decades, she will walk that path.

A young boy sprints down the alley,
From an imaginary starting point to his finish line,
Arms pumping, sweat beading,
Shorts and tennis shoes,
An athlete in his own training.
His running is his constant,
His running is his escape.

A school bus comes to the end of the alley
And picks up kids
Since it cannot come down the street
And safely return.

Down the alley, memories are the ghosts
Who live still,
Even death cannot dowse these spirits,
Even a dirt road will not suck them under.


Robert Baylot has published poetry and fiction in Poetry Super Highway, The Broad River Review, Delta Poetry Review, Blue Moon Literary and Art Review and other publications. He worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, attended the University of Southern Mississippi and now writes from Germantown, Tennessee. Read Baylot’s previous poems in Deep South here.

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