Harriet (A Movie Poem)

1.

The biggest tree exists

to neither swing nor sway,

doesn’t wait for a strong wind

to emancipate it from roots,

to be turned into freedom papers

to be torn up by the master.

The swing was created by the master,

to exist until the limb snaps and

the sway of blood to earth

arises in a song of liberation,

that listens for the river,

follows the stream of scars

flowing down that no slave

can ever escape or runaway from.

2.

The river casts her gently onto the banks.

She vomits its water onto the soil

fearful the scent will call the bloodhounds,

the white man’s brown and black animal

bred to hunt the runaway slave.

She huddles and shivers in the rain.

She recalls her master’s words:

“Having a favorite slave

is like having a favorite pig.

One day you will have to

sell it, eat it and forgets it’s name.”

Which is the greater sin against God,

she wonders, suicide or slavery?

She feels the rising sun

filtering through her fingers

in front of her and knows

she will walk alone

100 miles to freedom.

The good friend of the slave:

The Angel of Death is at her back.

She will go underground

and her enemies

will call her Moses.

She will cast Araminta Ross,

her old slave name, onto the waters.

Harriet Tubman will be

forever her free one.

Her adopted children

will not be born

into the stink of fear

and running for their lives.

3.

She falls into a God spell

that allows her to find

a way for every black soul

to forge the river,

make each crossing a baptism.

She now knows that freedom

means losing love but

finding your greater cause,

that the price of freedom is

watching people die,

watching people live

and breathe unbounded air

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