It used to be in Mayberry
folks were never colored
--not even black and white--
but beige, khaki,
a little grey. In Mayberry
Deputy Barney had one bullet
and no need for rope.
The only burning he did was for his Thelma Lou.
The sheriff had no gun,
just an aunt Bea baking pies
and an Opie full of freckles heading off to fish
or sing or court. Whatever Opies do.
In Mayberry, no doors were barred or locked.
The jail was mostly empty.
The only water hose we ever saw
on Sheriff Andy’s lawn.
Mayberry was a Southern town.
Technicolor must have killed it.
Made Andy a cranky lawyer.
Sent Opie running all the way to Hollywood.
But we remember.
Black and white,
from Chicago to Watts to Selma,
we tuned in to connect the dots of Opie’s face
while we dined on mashed potatoes and buttered corn
right before our TV sets,
that in this Southern town,
the sheriff used his hose to water Aunt Bea’s roses.
We were so happy and relieved
we laughed until we could not think
until we fell off our sofas and wingbacks and cane bottoms;
we laughed until we could not see or hear
until we could forget
that outside our own windows
other sheriffs with loaded guns, snarling dogs, and ready hoses
made quick work of a world on fire.