The simple air of a whistle.
Clean outside air, sweet perfume, cigarette smoke
From the usual porch sitters
Outside Bryant’s grocery store.
Cars slowly driving by with nowhere else to go
Her heels clicking on the old wood floors
As the door bell rang to announce my arrival.
Tightly packed shelves behind the register
Filled with gum, asprin, and candy
As she stood alone behind the counter.
The waist of the woman under my palms; my fate resting on her hips
The plantation hot night air laced with fear
The water rushing into my already lifeless lungs.
My own flesh burning
Soiled blood and metal engulfing my face
Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam laughing, shouting promises above gunshots.
One of my eyes violently grouted out, yet I can see the flash of a .45 slamming across my left cheek.
Finally the gin fan and barbed wire sinking with me to the bottom of the river. The whistle echoing…
Not Guilty. September 23, 1955. Emmitt Till.
“A little nobody who shook up the world.”
-Mamie Till Bradley