The Promise Land

Jacqueline Woodson

When my uncle gets out of jail
he isn’t just my uncle anymore, he is
Robert the Muslim and wears
a small black kufi on his head.
And even though we know
we Witnesses are the chosen ones, we listen
to the stories he tells about
a man named Muhammad

and a holy place called Mecca
and the strength of all Black people.
We sit in a circle around him, his hands
moving slow through the air, his voice
calmer and quieter than it was before
he went away.
When he pulls out a small rug to pray on
I kneel beside him, wanting to see

his Mecca
wanting to know the place
he calls the Promise Land.
Look with your heart and your head, he tells me
his own head bowed.
It’s out there in front of you.
You’ll know when you get there.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Last updated November 25, 2022