Poem: 'Roll Tide' for Derrick Henry

Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Running back Derrick Henry of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks a few tackles on a running play during the College Football 2016 National Championship Game.

In honor of the start of the college football season, Nabila Lovelace writes a poem for Alabama's 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.

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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

miracle.



& 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.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Derrick Henry of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs for a 50 yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

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.

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