C.D Wright’s One With Others captures Sweet Willie Wine’s Walk Against Fear in 1969 through small town Arkansas. Wright delves into the depths of the civil rights battle, following a white woman named V that gives everything she has to fight for the rights of others. This book-length lyrical essay includes a smattering of quotes from V’s friends, news reports, hymns, witnesses, lists, interviews and bits of history as Wrights attempts to recreate the atmosphere of the movement for the reader.
The narrative voice is that of V’s friend, someone quite close to her that has witnessed V’s struggles as well as her death. The book begins with the narrator’s account of V’s deathbed. “It smells like home. She said, dying. And I, What’s the you smell, V. And V, dying.”[sic] The reader learns very little about the narrator as she takes a journalistic role in the book. She was there, at V’s deathbed but the accounts of the incident are not directly from the narrator; They are from witnesses and from V herself, as well as newspapers and any other form of information Wright could gather. The narrator returns to V’s home after her death, it is here that we directly hear the narrator’s voice:
I park in a spot of shade and walk around.
Downtown half shut down.
Cotton gin still going, not strong, but going…
The house where my friend once lived, indefinitely empty…
If I put my face to the glass,
I can make out the ghost of her ironing board,
bottle of bourbon on the end.