The Debt

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

We                                                                       We

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.)


Leslye Joy Allen is proud to support the good work of Clean Green Nation.  Visit the website to learn more about it: Gregory at Clean Green Nation!

Creative Commons License This Blog was written by Leslye Joy Allen and is protected by U. S. Copyright Law and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  Any partial or total reference to this blog, or any total or partial excerpt of this blog must contain a direct reference to this hyperlink: with Leslye Joy Allen clearly stated as the author.





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