Freedom at Sunrise.
Freedom at Sunrise (Dedicated to Lenard D. Moore and Evie Shockley) November morning turns jubilee when black-velvet night retreats like rope-pulleyed curtains parting. Sun rises red then yellows, flickers along the treeline, covers Carolina cottonfields before harvest. Raised like battle swords against the "big house," silver rays illuminate the six-acre lawn tended by an icon preserved from days past, the slump-shouldered man whose aging brown face bows in twenty-first-century obedience, as he rakes leaves beneath my shuttered window. In this antique room with cane-bottom chairs, drop-leaf tables four-poster canopied bed, I've kept fitful sleep, burned lamps like torches on tabletops amidst whisper sounds, death clocks ticking, ticking, as ghosts stocking-footed their way along the spiral staircase just beyond my door, locked, a chair jammed beneath the knob. On the evening past, this plantation house revealed dark secrets, specters rapping against outside doors. An apparition floating through passageways. A thin-haired old man wearing a long white night shirt, come back from the grave, no doubt, bothered that free-born nigras are guests here, seated and served at a table once reserved for those privileged to decide fates through bills-of-sale drawn up and signed over dishes prepared by Negro cooks. Strong like our holy-oiled hands, three poets, invited, we will speak poems into autumn air. Without knowing the history, yet imagining horrors tangled around this homestead, we let words settle into ears listening, as we step through stanzas filled with blues and jazz, romance in England and France, memories of Martin and Malcolm, quilts and stories about homeplaces far from this place. Summoning spirits: calloused-palm field hands, wet nurses and house negresses, backs bloodied at whipping posts, we strip limbs from hanging-trees, read out rights of passage, walk towards freedom in a throng.
L. Teresa Church is a playwright, freelance writer, arts consultant, quiltmaker, and poet. She resides in Durham, North Carolina.
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|Author:||Church, L. Teresa|
|Publication:||African American Review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2004|
|Previous Article:||Holy-Oiled Fingers.|