The Glorious Past

The pastel houses line the Battery
facing Sumter where it began
A graceful front door, trompe d’oeil,
invites you to a hidden porch
cool and private.

Old Charleston families boast
of moving back from the islands,
the local version of suburbs,
to reclaim their proud position
here along the harbor.

This flurry to reclaim the past
displaces the poor black families
living crowded in the decayed splendor,
the collapsed grandeur of the ante bellum world.

Not many black faces walk these
history laden streets.
“Two signers of the Constitution in this house”
“Calhoun buried in this churchyard”

Drive north just a few blocks of these
restored dead streets
to see black families in houses
not yet touched by the golden wand
though just as old and filled with stories.

Lari Smith