Conversation on a Balcony

February 8, 2020

“Is that Sojourner Truth?”
I asked in struck surprise
She was sitting on the ledge
outside a gathering
high above the street
feet dangling
I climbed out the window
and sat next to her
“Are you Sojourner Truth?!”
I asked, still stunned
“Yes” she replied
eyes focused forward
long back in perfect posture
straight as my Aunt Sally’s
in Acworth by her wood stove

We talked a while
I don’t remember all that was spoken
but this I am certain of
and will never forget, because it is True!

“But weren’t you a slave?” I asked
In simple curious pitch
She responded in her own
patient serenity, power
Inward and lurching
Strength pouring from her
Prophetess tongue
The Sojourner
the Pioneer
the Follower of Jesus
even in tent meetings
when apples are thrown
at white people’s conferences
when the Spirit hush fell
“Ain’t I a woman?!”
Good God, YES!

But it was to me,
to me, only me,
my legs dangling too
She turned and said,
“They thought I was, but I wasn’t.”

Sojourner, stay
Don’t let me awake.

I’m a runaway slave.
following Harriet
I turn and look behind me
sweat pours off my face
pools beneath my breasts
my hair is soaked

I run
I run for my life

Look for signs

Follow the underground path
like an Indian
read the woods
each twig, broken branch
study quilts in a hurry
hastily leap across the creek
past the huge Beech tree

Turn left at the moss
and you’re almost free!