Black & Kinky Amongst Brown Waves


Poem of the Week: Celebrating Black History Month
February 8, 2011, 11:38 pm
Filed under: performance

Happy Black History Month!

The poem I am posting this week was actually the first poem that I have ever been commissioned to write.  My friend Marianne Ross from the arts organization Concerts in the Country asked me to write a piece about the Underground Railroad.  My piece was presented as a part of a weekend of events at the Button Farm Living History Center, Maryland’s only living history center depicting 19th century slave plantation life run by the Menare Foundation.  Since this is a song/poem, I have posted a video of me performing the piece at the end.

 

won’t you get on board © 2008 by margaux delotte-bennett

won’t you get on board, get on board
won’t you get on board that freedom train
get on board
won’t you get on board, get on board
won’t you get on board this freedom train
get on board

the only tracks
the ones
left over tangled roots and fallen leaves
feet shuffling when it’s safe
running when it’s not
focused on always moving ahead
foot by foot
step by step
trudging forward in time and space to a place unknown
but often dreamed about

the only lights
what little is sometimes shed by the moon
the dim lantern of our conductor
the flicker of hope still burning in our hearts
fireflies in summer
owl eyes in winter
the mighty north star

it’s no surprise how quickly one adjusts to walking in the dark
when every cell is focused on seeing
because that which is unseen
can lead you astray
or foretell the end of this hidden journey
who knows what the next stop will be
one can only guess and hope where this train is heading

won’t you get on board, get on board
won’t you get on board that freedom train
get on board

but I’m afraid, you may say
I’ve never known fear like this
even my eyelashes are trembling
and now
now that the time has come
freedom is so bittersweet
I wanted it to go down smooth
To get to this point and just know what my decision would be
but it keeps getting caught in my throat because
I could die along this journey
could be killed if I stay here
I’ve never been so scared in all my life, you may say
I know this body of mine is strong
put up with too much hurtin on this green earth
but what, what am I to do now?
you may say
you may say…

won’t you get on board, get on board
won’t you get on board that freedom train
get on board

this train moves most often at night
darkness fuels flight
allows for smooth movement along bumpy terrain
so much can be accomplished in the wee hours of the morn
so many dreams can be reordered and set in place
each moment
an eternity pregnant with possibility

the train stations are well marked to the trained eye
a quilt, well placed over that old fence
a lantern, swinging from the hitching post
a barn door, left open, just enough
a candle, left flickering in a window
who knows what the next stop will be
but we all know where this train is heading

won’t you get on board, get on board
won’t you get on board this freedom train
get on board
won’t you get on board, get on board
won’t you get on board that freedom train
get on board


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