August Fire—1965 | Sojourners

August Fire—1965

A poem.
A photo collage that includes a portrait of Ruby Sales and Jonathan Daniels.
Illustration by Aaron Marin

Who is scorched worse,
the one who dives to take the bullet,
the one who shoots,
or the woman spared?

Take Ruby Sales, for example—
how she and Jonathan Daniels,
thirsty from heat and the Hayneville jail
stop for a cold soda on their way out of town.

Deputy Tom Coleman is angry, is ready;
he aims his gun pointblank at Ruby.
Daniels sees it coming, pushes Ruby over
throws his body in bullet’s path.

Editor's note: Sales, founder of the SpiritHouse Project, is a nationally recognized human rights activist and public theologian. Coleman was acquitted of the death of Jonathan Daniels by an all-white jury and died in 1997.

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