by Leslye Joy Allen
from Birmingham to Bahia from Sapelo to San Juan
women black brown bronze tan men black brown bronze tan
looked away from more than we will see paid for more than we will collect
scholars scrubbing Miss Anne’s floor scientists slapping rags on shoes
teachers taking Mister Charlie’s orders architects covered in coal dust
Coloured women Coloured men
braided our hair held us in barbers’ chairs
amenned, fanned on hard church pews shop-talked at fraternal meetings
heard bedside prayers slipped us quarters
fragrant of Crisco and rose water pungent with Old Spice and cigars
admonished us with switches early-rised us to duties
and quick-witted wisdom ordered us home by dusk
whose breath their hopes are hung on whose breath their hopes are hung on
owe them owe them.
Copyright © 2012 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
(I have been blessed with wonderful teachers who have insisted that my being a historian had nothing to do with my ability to write something other than history. Much love & respect to my two favorite Partners-in-crime: Poet-Professors Dr. Waqas Ahmad Khwaja & Dr. Steven Guthrie of Agnes Scott College.)
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