Submitted Date 08/03/2019

The Orchids Of John Hope Franklin
Age 38, Durham, North Carolina, 1982
John Hope Franklin was one of the most important African American historians, who looked at history from the Black point of view. He also had an obsession with orchids -- and just before he died a new orchid was named after him.

-- This is one poem, from my autobiographical series of poems, that I posted here at WriteSpike. Go to my Stories section for others. They are in chronological order. --

One feels the excitement of hearing an untold story.
~ John Hope Franklin ~

When I showed up at his door
I was just a young white guy
with a camera on assignment

I had never met a man with such poise
who offered me tea
and then a tour of his orchid garden
before we got down to business
and I took his portrait
for the Duke University magazine

today I think about what I did not know then
- how he had volunteered in World War II
but was told he was the wrong color
- how he, more than anyone, had researched
and defined the history of the African American struggle

and I think about what I had not told him
how I had marched and sang and learned non-violence
how I had been jailed
in that same struggle

yet, oddly, those words were not needed between us
it was as if we both understood
and instead, I walked through his greenhouse
while his wife silently watered the plants
while he told me about his passion for these flowers
and I smelled his orchids


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  • Ceara 1 month, 1 week ago

    Love the last stanza. A beautiful way to wrap up the poem and demonstrate the connection you had.

    • Rick Doble 1 month, 1 week ago

      It was one of those things that only hit me years later -- and I wanted these autobiographical poems to not only be about what happened but also feelings about things that did not happen