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-------------------------------
In memory of our ancestors...

rivers

black wood
rugged earth
barren land
--------------------------------

By SHAUNTAY GRANT

In memory of our ancestors...
rivers

black wood
rugged earth
barren land
stand
sunken
on a hill
marred by loose talk
and defamation
up from slavery's narration
placed them/we/us
on rejected dirt
we: preston's prize
covertly crucified
on invisible crosses
hand to hoe
foot to plough
face to shrub
back to sun
left to starve
and fall prey
to the elements
unprepared for and
unjustly subjected to harsh winters
and unwanted soils
we have known rivers
our food
sprung from rivers of salt/water sweat
our spirit
moved daily to tears
our voice
flood masses and congregations
with fervent incantations
talk of historical correlations
linking prestons to southern isles
while
history reveals a well known secret
once again
and for the first time
we have known rivers

we've traveled the length of zambezi
bathed our children in nile waters
baptized sons and daughters
in sources
and springs
southern sea sings of rivers and crossings
drinkin gourds and supernatural signs
bind us to centuries of
searching
but when will we find
the source
the spring
water brought us to this thing we call
freedom
this intangible real
composed of rivers
rivers we must cross
waters we must drink
and drown
and swim
and stroke
and tame
for we to be free
with struggle comes triumph over chains that bind to barren land
many rivers we've crossed
many trials we've tried
freedom is at hand


*Shauntay Grant's article on Langston Hughes appeared in the 2002 Black History & African Heritage Supplement.

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