c. 1873

Image of Short Fiction & Poetry Contest - 2019

Early morning sun shone

through the lattice window

while thin-beaked blue birds

sung a piercing high note.

Our unkempt rose garden—

evidence of unrestricted love—

was showered by the tears (of joy)

from the clouds above.


Mama would saunter into our room,

shew the birds away,

to read us our chores for the day.

We’d clean for hours;

until Daddy came from the fields

with those wild-looking flowers!


I had community where I grew

and safety in people that looked like me,

and from those that looked like you.


We were separated

on the terms of discrimination;

the ink that stains are nation,

the blinds that shut the light

out my Mama’s eyes

the night

I was taken away.


That night,

my mind was flooded

by a riptide of fear,

my vision was unclear

so as not to see

how I was prodded

like the poultry

Mama would sauté or

how He used my body

to commit adultery.


Most nights

remained the same,

I was in a play

with no scenery change,

only made to endure

from the day

I met you.


Your face was like His,

but younger and weary.

Similar skin color,

but different eyes.

Yours would flutter

with intrigue

for the culture

I brought with me.


You treated me well

and lived for the

stories I’d tell

about my life

before captivity.

When you gave me

those roses from

the entwined thorn vines

behind the manor,

I wept.

And the nights

that I slept

by your side,

you’d wake me

to do the tasks

He left behind.


You held me by my heart,

trying to be Mama and Daddy.

And for what you couldn’t become,

you taught me to see.

Like how the sun still lit

in the AM haze

and the birds chirped

in its soothing rays.


But hesitance pulled me

from your full embrace.

How could I trust the color

of my oppressor?

Would I sacrifice my dignity

for us to be together?


To disprove my assumption

of your identity,

you confessed that you’re

a baby of infidelity

with His old house girl.


You claimed we were the same

because we were stolen

from our families,

left only with distant memories

and the sounds of their cries,

that were too heavy to hear goodbye.


Yet, our similarities

walked a thin line

until you said your mama

had skin just like mine.


You saw her through me

like time waited

to test your heart.

“He can’t take you

away from me,"

or make bland

the color of our art.”


Your truth revealed

that the acceptance

of my presence

was evidence to your past,

and we were both souls alone

clinging to each other

to remind us of home.