Poem: 'Roll Tide' for Derrick Henry
In honor of the start of the college football season, Nabila Lovelace writes a poem for Alabama's 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.
For Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry & I have similar sized hands.
I know byway of immortality:
a cast of them in hardened cement,
a feature of the co-captain shrine
on the Tuscaloosa Quad.
My mama wants to know if I have seen him
IRL & my patience glints in its smallness.
This campus is big in it's body; doubles
in density on game days.
Truthfully, I have aged out
of college campus recognition,
but mama insists on his unordinary:
to spot a 6'3, black man, 250lbs is a possible
& I will not say of his stature
a correlation to an inhuman body i.e. any non-bipedal
or feathered one. A someone,
someone could miss place w/ myth;
Henry...a durable guy.
The adjective "durable":
a cramped closet of tragic names,
the collapse of a body's height
under condensed lead.
Sen. John Tyler Morgan was a college sports fan
in his want of human bodies
to perform an unpaid labor.
Meaning, I have a relation
to the most tragic of names
that university buildings are named after.
& the stadium is dressed in Henry's
name every night:
A man who drove 357 miles
in a truck with two confederate flags as axles
chants Henry's name for the Heisman.
& I am in awe of how the field
spreads across a century.
I live in 2016, a year w/ linage
beyond a goal post. & I cry
seeing Henry's hands forever in the ground.
Hands i've never seen, but through the TV screen.
& here even John Tyler Morgan must love the man w/ skin
he'd have once vouched to burn back to the earth.
I cheer w/ my mama for Henry winning the Heisman.
The game ends & the stadium is an emptying lake.
Blood rises when we win. It's tradition. Raise glasses
& hope his mama good. Here's to the land of game
that lets a man reclaim the land.
Nabila Lovelace is a 2015 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop fellow, finalist for the Emerge-Be-Surface fellowship 2014, and a winner of the 2013 Poets & Writers Amy Award. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Day One, Winter Tangerine Hands Up Don't Shoot edition. She is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama.