Morning Exercise 8-25-14: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let’s try something new for Morning Exercise. Choose a person and try to imagine our way into his life. Today, Martin Luther King, Jr.




The cup of coffee, set aside to cool, is now lukewarm. He pushes it away. He picks up the spoon instead. Licks it. And looking around to make sure that Coretta is not standing nearby, watching him — more and more these days she does that — he puts it into the sugar bowl and pulls it out. Holds it up to the light. 


When did his hand begin to look this way? So old. His father’s hand, not his. No, don’t think about him right now. Though that’s a conversation he can’t put off much longer. How does a person argue with a man who won’t argue. And why does he never argue, people wonder. Because there’s no need. He knows he’s right.


In the sunlight, every grain of sugar is a miniature diamond. Each diamond as white as the one next to it. Uniformly white. “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.” As a flame of fire. He had always been drawn to that phrase — despite himself.


He thought: Ralph is right about Hosea. Something would have to be done. Another conversation he had been putting off. Could I ask Andy to do it? Lord, give me just one day’s peace from their wrangles, their squabbles, their neediness. Give me one hour, Lord. Yes, that would be the best way to handle it. Hosea looked up to Andy. And Andy liked to be looked up to.


And how did it go on, that part of Revelations? Head and hair white, eyes like flame, and his voice was as, as … No, it’s not there to find. Too tired to think, that’s what his mother used to say. Weariness was on him like a suit of lead. A suit that he wore all day, all night. How could a man even breathe, much less think and act and lead others, with this weight upon him?


His mother. He had to fight the urge sometimes to deliver himself to her. Put himself in her hands. Let her tuck him in, stroke his head, and sit there on the edge of the bed until he fell asleep. Her and her “somebodiness.” Well, he was somebody now, he supposed.


Brown sugar — why didn’t people put brown sugar in their coffee?


“As the sound of many waters.” Of course. How could he have forgotten. “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.”


He put the spoon in his mouth.


© 2014 Jim Abbot


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