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Spring 1986 · Vol. 15 No. 1 · p. 14 


Jean Janzen

Before the riots, before
the elms along Woodlawn
became torches, we stood
in the Mennonite Church,
blacks and whites together
singing, Jesus Priceless
Treasure. A wet Easter,
rain washing soot off the first
delicate leaves, all the shops
on 47th Street barred for the day,
the last murder mopped up.
The shining women and their
organdied daughters came out
of the old mansions-turned
into-apartments, out of the Girls’
Finishing School, a family
in each room, bullet holes
at eye level, their men waiting
on stained mattresses,
and we sang.

Three years
and I walked away with my hymnbook
and my education. I heard later
that the church was gutted,
its space filled with public
housing and walls sprayed with X’s
and graffiti, that asphalt covers
the places where I lived,
covers the glass of the smashed
bay window where I looked out
on that Easter day and watched
the leaves get clean in the rain,
the tulips’ red tips cracking

Jean Janzen is a Fresno poet who writes for the sheer delight of sharing her faith and life.

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