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field of lillies
He touched me even his china brown eyes roaming my soul, drifted me apart, and deciding, pondering. How he can ruin my heart like a spoiled apple, even the wicked witch of the west wouldn’t eat. That’s when my bitterness lied in love. 50.000 flowers shedding light to a new life and a 40 member choir christening us in prosperity, while wrapping me in Devil’s fiery pit of hell.
As I walked to town I thought about mama, and how as a kid she would tell me stories of never giving up. How her mother would gather her and all the kids in their homeland small village of Africa and tell them stories, the same stories she told me. And oh how she would love, to watch me dance in the yard when it’s raining and march through the small mud puddles like I was marching through battlefields and freedom. I could hear her now rocking in her old tattered chair that was passed from generations to generations, speaking about she would never cease the moment to stop fighting to end slavery. Mama still at the age of seventy-four where wrinkles long appeared, ruby lipstick hid through her lips, and she was having a hard time bending her back to sweep the yard, still healed the sick of Mayflower, Georgia. Other people in town in church always speak of what great things you do as a chairman on the board, for the white and black. I guess that’s what makes her different, she brave and despite all the heartaches and hatred that circulate through the air, she never give up. See if you look in a old dictionary of mama, I bet you’ll find her name by brave.
Her greatest dream is to march side by side next to Martin Luther King Jr. without missing a beat to the tune of his voice. Often at night as a youngun I would find mama kneeling, repeating the words of Moses” let my people go”.
I could see the small shuffled town while I was walking on the only Main Road in Mayflower. Only about five buildings existed: the corner store, the courthouse, the hardware store, one restaurant for blacks, and one for whites. They were all small buildings connected to each other. It was said that Mayflower was built by the pilgrims and which the Indian tribes helped. It occurred to me what was so funny was, that this town ,is built from one culture helping another but yet racism burn everlasting here.
I walked in the dirt shuffled quiet town of Mayflower balancing suitcases and Mary Lilly, my nails digging in her polka dot dress, humming the words of Amazing Grace in her rose petal ears. Women skirts dancing along wooden legs of rocking chairs, gossiping about things, such as the Negro man having affair with the runaway preacher’s daughter. The sweltering heat and protruding rocks left dishelved road causing raisin blisters to swell on my pineapple embedded skin. Their eyes cut me like the sound of the ice clicking to their glass of tea.
Mama strokes my face with her peach fingertips, tracing the murky brown tears. Her breath caressed my ears, perched like a rocking chair with its heels dug adjacently in the wooden planks. Waiting for the words to drift and fall upon my ear,” I love you”. They came out gently rode out sweetly in the air like the aroma of sweet potato pie during deep winter days. She kissed me slowly and assuaged my pain he left me with.
I walked towards Creek street to get water from Ol Sweetwater Plantation. The water was heavy when it seemed as Jesus heard my prayers.
“Hi, Missus, do yah need a ride? I just came from eatn fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits from the colored folks pig out down on in Main. It so does seem like a heavy load you carryin in that bucket.”
His hair was coarse and stringy like the inside of a mango. His skin shivered in midnight blue and sweat. I saw the ring that crossed his finger but decided not to make a mockery of it. Dirt specks covered the outside of his Cadillac all though it still dazzled like the teeth of those White gals on the Colgate commercials. I jumped in and soon realized it was most much prettier on the inside where suede seats covered it. I wonder did he notice or even cared that although I steadied the tin bucket with my feet water still splashed.
He told me stories of how his mother was Sally Hemmings the freed slave and child bearer of Thomas Jefferson. I reckon that was how he was conceived but I just couldn’t grasp the thought of this midnight blue man coming from an arrayal of white folks. I watched the colored and white signs parade on buildings of brown rickety material. Shoe shine stores sheltered every corner while children shuffled in and out of corner stores paying 1 cent a piece for a piece of sugarcane from the fields. Mamas hollering out for the younguns to only scoot their marbles on verandas and not in the dirt packed roads. I couldn’t help but think about the headlines of the Negro newspapers “Seven Adolescent Nigger Slaves Missing”.
As we neared the old white courthouse faint screams neared, became louder, grew then died slowly. I knew it could only be that of the coloreds suffering that of the whites. When we soon neared mamas house it seemed as though the cries grew like the dog sweat days of summer. I quickly wiped the sweat beads that trickled my oval mustard colored face. I quickly noticed that mother was hanging on the apple tree as though she was meant to be there, like she was part of the orchard. Men in fully covered clothing danced around her, the shingles of the house began to stir and rose bushes were trampled on as they ambushed the house.
Tears began to stroke my face as they did when I found my preacher husband in the covers of a white woman. I screamed and struggled to free her and to just imagine this is such a nightmare. Three girls in cherry wood dresses led out with four boys intermingling in overalls. I ran as far as my toffee legs would carry me and nestled Mary Lilly in my breast caressing the words of Amazing Grace in her ears letting them drift across mother’s soul.
She left a note perched high in the icebox with money hidden along with it neatly across the lemonade cubes.
Love this world as your own. Ignore the ignorance and the hatred the pour along the soil of God’s earth. Remind Mary Lilly the kindness of my ways. I simply could not see the lashes of their backs and the tears of their eyes suffer my heart any longer. I simply am a conductor of the Underground Railroad that helped thousands lead to freedom.
June 15, 1776