Coming Back to Illinois

Coming back to Illinois, this time central, not

southern, from Iowa made me feel things I did

not expect.  So much History, yet a sense of being suspended, perhaps because we face a new millenium.  I find myself thinking back a lot, on the turbulent urban-crazed sixties, troops in the street,students uncompromising on campus, Africanity everywhere.  Ubi sunt? Where are the snows of yesteryear?  Going to Lincoln, Illinois, and remembering pictures of Langston Hughes with his mother, who taught him to love literature, standing beside their house in Lincoln, pictures of Langston and high school friends grinning into a camera held by somebody who cared, stirred me. Langston, rooted here in the Midwest, reached out so much, to Harlem, Paris, Africa, Russia, Spain,

—an everwidening circle.  I like to think I talk to him across that space and time.

Springfield, Illinois

February 1995