Claudette Colvin

Issue ThreePoetry

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By Fiona Lynch

 

When she was four, white boys asked to touch her hand,

to compare; her mother slapped her face, not her place.

 

At sixteen, a bus driver told her to sit at the back of the bus.

Police dragged her off, black face, in the wrong place.

 

In 1956, she was branded—feisty, mouthy, loud—Rosa Parks

the test case, pretty hair, quiet. Claudette had the wrong face.

 

In 1958, the Supreme Court said Claudette could sit anywhere.

Montgomery folk said she was trouble, should leave their place.

 

For 35 years, Claudette worked, aide in a Manhattan nursing home.

Most don’t know, that she testified, changed the law, made her place.

 

Image by Matthew Henry