I am in a play called “The Stone that Started the Ripple” and I have the distinct pleasure of playing Sojourner Truth. It is both exciting and humbling because of the magnitude of a woman she was. This poem is for her.
I want to hear the music of your Dutch tongue
listen intently to the melodies you sung
without the twang Dana Gage added to your speech
I want to sit at your feet and listen to you
teach the power of spirit.
Although you could not write or read
it would be far
worth more than any of my degrees
to learn from you
to grasp this history I was never taught
to search for your story and find it on your lips
full of song and a just cause.
Like undercurrents above the mud
so journeys truth through history
in bloodlines from Ghana and Guinea
sold on an auction block for one hundred dollars
with a flock of sheep
to become a shephard to the unfree
I see you now like one of your visions
protesting for abolition
fighting for woman’s suffrage and reform in prisons
and sitting in streetcars meant for white folks
to move towards desegregation.
You were leagues before your time
before bus boycotts you shined like
black gold radiating light
and I can only hope that I might
be true to your truth and live true to mine.