I lay still in the back seat of the car,
the moon peeps at me, and I at it.
The blackness of the night is only
equaled by the stillness.
The north Mississippi countryside
is invisible in the dark but I feel it.
I always sense my people who
worked the land for generations.
On day drives I picture them with mules,
hoes, chains, and children.
I see their backs bent from the strain,
looking straight out into fields from which
they cannot escape.
I hear their voices--whispering at night and
singing at day break, beckoning a God
that they know will give them the
strength to face another endless day.
My people, dark people, hard working
people—owned people. Their brown faces peek
through the cotton and nod at me,
acknowledging me and somehow
demanding that I make them proud.
Their ethereal presence doesn’t frighten
me, instead it envelops me in a warm embrace.
The smell of the clay hillsides wafts into the car and
as my eyes close I thank these giving strangers.
My grandfather moves the old Ford towards
home, and I am swaddled in love.
Cheryl Hall-Russell 2013 ©