A Walk with Tom Jefferson198819 years old and going nowhere,I got a ride to Bessemer and walkedthe night road toward Birminghampassing dark groups of men cursingthe end of a week like every week.Out of town I found a small groveof trees, high narrow pines, and Isat back against the trunk of oneas the first rains began slowly.South, the lights of Bessemer glowedas though a new sun rose there,but it was midnight and another shifttooled the rolling mills. I musthave slept awhile, for someoneelse was there beside me. I couldsee a cigarette's soft light,and once a hand grazed mine, manor woman's I never knew. SlowlyI could feel the darkness fillmy eyes and the dream that came wasof a bright world where sunlightfell on the long even rows of housesand I looked down from great heightat a burned world I believedI never had to enter. Whenthe true sun rose I was stiffand wet, and there beside me wasthe small white proof that someonerolled and smoked and left me thereunharmed, truly untouched.A hundred yards off I could hearcars on the highway. A lifewas calling to be lived, but howand why I had still to learn.
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