White perfection like cirrus clouds on a sweltering southern mid-afternoon,
Lay the cotton  blanket of white whispers speaking hauntingly and softly.
My eyes gazing on a snowy speckled pattern, as I could hear melodic singing.
Melancholy voices, expressions shared while talking of their joint sorrows,
Bended aching backs and thin arms carrying heavy sacks of the white fluff.
My heart heard their woeful songs as they searched for news of family gone.
Declarations of love for God, One who they knew would never desert them,
Backs bearing scars and raw fingers bleeding from the spiny cotton boils,
Fingers wrapped with old strips of cloth covering blisters and dried blood.
Strong the will of these beloved people whose offense was their native color.
Black the way God made them, exquisite was their beauty and their kindness,
Sharing their hope for freedom with words now sung sweeter than the lark.
Seeing them now with aching backs and tiredness they bore so bottomless,
Touching my soul with despair from our wretched past where power abused,
Creating a southern legacy of shame, even for me now, as I look to the field.
Turning away I wipe the pouring of tears from my face and try to imagine,
The pearly white field of cotton without greed, hate or the centuries of pain,
That white man inflicted on a strong and tender nation of kindred spirits,
Still haunting this blood harvest for those, who still feel the white man’s sting.

“My mother picked cotton before school in the summer and her fingers bled from the rough cotton boils. They were very poor and her father would drink away all the money from the annual crop leaving her family hungry during the winter months.”

By JKC 9/17/19

Photo by Joni


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