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Auction Block at Sunset in Luray, VA: An Invitation to the Deeply Spiritual Work of Anti-Racism

Stalking sunset

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,

then down

Bare feet, shod feet upon this stone

Up, then down

A wedge to cleave families

For centuries

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

And I…

And you…

And we…

…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.

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