I know blackness as taught by my father:
“You are my joy and my genius,” he often said.
I know blackness as taught by my mother:
“Your smile is my robe of honor, your peace my earned grace.”
Once a year we were pilgrims driving from Atlanta
to Waycross where my brother and sister and I
would walk with our parents’ memories through the fields
where they and their parents bled through Georgia summers,
just barely better off than slaves who died there.
“They took everything but the best thing,” my father moaned.
I know divinity as wept by my mother: “Your eyes
are the windows through which He watches over us.”
I know divinity as wept by my father: “Your veins
are the halls of glory where He meditates our fate.”
There in the fields of ignominies past, our hands
would link and weld like burning rings of truth.
Passing over ground now fruitless and cracked
my father’s foot crushed the skull of an albino serpent’s evil,
and my mother’s heel the sting of a dark scorpion’s ignorance.
“They killed everything but one good thing,” my mother said.
I know power as sung by my father’s soul: “Every single one
cut down left you a legacy of strength on top of strength.”
I know power as spun by my mother’s faith: “Don’t matter if
both arms break, your spirit can still lift a whole nation.”
We stop at the gray stone —bigger than I, then— marking the place
where my father saw his father fall in the fire of a merciless hour.
We gather round him. His tears storm silent. Each drop splashes
my head with pictures: Black Souls cryin’ all together; Black Souls
laughin’ all together; Black Souls shining bright all as one.
“They ruined everything but the sacred thing,” said my father.
“We brought the Love with us and we keepin’ it still,” said my mother.
“Every hour henceforth we are delivered unto blessed triumph.”
“We brought the Love with us and we keepin’ it still.”
Last updated October 10, 2011