I called it Monkey Hill. Everyone called it Monkey Hill.
Certain things were automatic then, like calling those
who lived there colored, like locking your car doors
and speeding up just a little as you drove through
Monkey Hill, like making snap judgments and not
thinking twice about why we called Monkey Hill
Monkey Hill. More renowned than understood,
like Cherry Street where the town’s few wealthy lived
or Dogwood Road, home to poor white trash
like me. On ancient maps, Monkey Hill would have read
Here There Be Monsters. Every town had a colored section.
It took me years to know that this was by white design
and not by colored choice. We carry the past–
or the past carries us–into whatever future remains.
Some can see a sunrise and not accept the past is gone.
Some still say colored, and some say Monkey Hill.
But that sun does rise and shines its light on a present
not so different from the past. Those strong enough
to turn their faces to that sun understand
that we were wrong to call it Monkey Hill.
It wasn’t a hill. It was a mountain.
Read more of R.G. Evans’s poetry.
Interested in submitting poetry to The Good Men Project? Check out our guidelines.
Photo by Joe Brusky/Flickr