Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer's Shade


Summer's Shade
( Mississippi, 1964)
Oh! Child, sharecropper's girl,
you hold a book in your hands
under that tree with the flowers
so large and white -- it seems blasphemous.
The pages smell -- hope chest old
and the words are old
written by a slave woman
generations before.
On the water, a damsel fly
hovers around the wide leaf
of a water lily. its wings checkered
like the author's gingham gown
you saw on the cover.
The insect dances, delighting
in the wind's language of heat
and grass scent. In her poems,
the woman writes of singing
in  a warm grassland
where young women weave baskets
out of the  marsh straw
and cast their shadows proud
and slender on the foot paths.
From the evening bush, birds rise.
a sharp flock, a spear head
to honor their  grace and distaff.
The magic craft, the ancestral fingers
minding their skill.
Oh! Child, sharecropper's girl,
you  look at your own hands.
They bear the same color
as the writer's. They touch her book.
They will make a difference.
In the Summer of 1964, The Civil Rights Movement took a major step in promoting the education and voting rights of the African American community. At this time period, Southern States made if extremely difficult for black people to vote demanding they pass literacy tests and other questionable tasks to qualify. Many people of this ethnic group were poor and undereducated. Black people were not allowed access to  libraries among other educational facilities that served  a Caucasian  population. Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement recruited teachers and educators from all over the nation to come to Mississippi and train the  young Black kids to read and write with accuracy, encouraging their knowledge of literature and their own cultural identities. They were exposed to literature written by Black poets, essayists, historians and other people of great, ethnic distinction. My poem is an example of a young girl being exposed to a writer, a freed African Slave woman from the 19th Century, who wrote poems about her homeland in Africa where women were honored for their domestic talents, fertility, wisdom etc. A culture that was closely connected to nature and the grassland. Though, my character is fictitious , she does symbolize the opening of a door, the possibility of a young black female developing an awareness of herself and her historic identity/legacy. The slave woman referenced in this poem is actually based on some black women writers of the era I have found on-line. Several of which wrote poems but were simply titled as anonymous.


rossichka said...

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Gwendrina said...

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