A Tenth Anniversary Photograph, 1952

By Miller Williams 1930–2015 Miller Williams
Look at their faces. You know it all.
They married the week he left for the war.   
Both are gentle, intelligent people,   
as all four of their parents were.

They’ve never talked about much
except the children. They love each other   
but never wondered why they married   
or had the kids or stayed together.

It wasn’t because they knew the answers.   
They had never heard the questions   
that twisted through the jokes to come   
of Moses and the Ten Suggestions.

They paid their debts and never doubted   
God rewarded faith and virtue
or when you got out of line
had big and little ways to hurt you.

People walked alone in parks.
Children slept in their yards at night.   
Most every man had a paying job,
and black was black and white was white.

Would you go back? Say that you can,   
that all it takes is a wave and a wink   
and there you are. So what do you do?   
The question is crueler than you think.

Miller Williams, “A Tenth Anniversary Photograph, 1952” from Some Jazz a While: Collected Poems. Copyright © 1999 by Miller Williams. Used with the permission of the poet and the University of Illinois Press.

Source: Some Jazz a While (University of Illinois Press, 1999)

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Poet Miller Williams 1930–2015

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Religion, Living, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Marriage & Companionship, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Miller  Williams


Poet, editor, critic, and translator Miller Williams was born in Hoxie, Arkansas in 1930, the son of a Methodist clergyman and civil rights activist. Miller’s work is known for its gritty realism as much as for its musicality. Equally comfortable in formal and free verse, Williams wrote poems grounded in the material of American life, frequently using dialogue and dramatic monologue to capture the pitch and tone of American . . .

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SUBJECT Religion, Living, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Marriage & Companionship, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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