Auction Block at Sunset in Luray, VA: An Invitation to the Deeply Spiritual Work of Anti-Racism
Dimming burnished streets
Sparking blossoms of a weeping cherry at twilight
Deep thrumming call of mountains
Indigo forest-cloaked ancestors hold the hollows and valley in their laps
At the navel of the valley
A rectangular sandstone block stands waist high
Hidden from Main Street
Behind the Visitor’s Center
An auction block
For human beings
For black people
A sign declares-
“This block is an historic symbol of a dark past of man's inhumanity towards his fellow man. It is also a symbol of how far we have come in learning to respect its victims and in resolving to go forward into the future with mutual respect and understanding.” (August 31, 1961)
floating above the earth,
Bare feet, shod feet upon this stone
Up, then down
A wedge to cleave families
Millions of black and brown people enslaved
Millions of others walking with white privilege and upholding systemic racism
I touch the stone and see the beloved ones’ feet
I feel the smoothed grooves and dimpling of its surface
The sandstone of these mountains holds aquifers
What lies inside this extracted shard?
The ancestor mountains hold the circle of the sacred now
…break the rock to let justice flow.
*This poem reflects my own ongoing spiritual work of anti-racism as a white cis-gender gay person in the U.S.
*I did not take a photo of the auction block out of respect for the people who suffered here. To know that it exists and to listen to the call to action through contemplation that it has for your heart are more powerful than light reflecting off sandstone onto a digital screen.