There is a postcard in an antique shop in Duluth
with a photograph of the infamous lynching of
a black man carried out in the town in the 1930s.
The owner was turned down by eBay when
he wanted to sell it there. Tourists walk into
his shop and stare at the lone card in the glass case.
The owner says it is better to sell it
than donate it to a museum where
it would be locked away in a drawer.
Some people want it removed.
Others snicker and stare, shake their heads
and accept the fact this is “only Minnesota.”
Each morning, the shop owner glances
at the case to make sure the postcard is there.
Thousands have bowed over the glass.
At night, when the shop is closed,
the postcard lies in the case, the body hanging
in the cold moonlight from Lake Superior,
the shadow from the swinging body
forming a shape that rises through
the glass to darken the shop.
Over a dozen people have come across it.
They don’t know the act of bending over the glass
to study the dead body on the pole is forming
an invisible arc of light over time,
a shadow where those who bow to look
imitate the shape of a hanging tree.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.