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She Goes Back

Lillian White Avatar Lillian White - Premium MemberPremium Member   Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled She Goes Back which was written by poet Lillian White. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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The poem is below.


She Goes Back

She Goes Back
By Lillian J. Jeffrey


Whispers flow like a river
she will be sold
sold or rented like a cash crop

Born on a Maryland plantation
her mother works the big house
Harriet runs barefoot in the woods
side by side her brothers, nursemaids 
her younger brother, childhood ends at five

She is rented, sleeps on a cold, cold floor 
shares food scraps with dogs 
wounds yarn slow they say 
checks muskrat traps in marshes 
barefoot in icy waters she looks 

Her lungs fill, fill with fluid, her body burns 
she is sent back coughing, coughing, holds on
fights off bronchitis and measles 
her mother helps nurse her back

Rented to take care of a baby, clean house 
the baby cries, she’s whipped, whipped, she runs
runs like the wind, tumbles into a pig pen 
pig fights for potato peels




Her stomach empty, rumbles, she 
returns to her mistress, the whippings set
her back on fire, she is sent back.

Rented, rented to load lumber
hears Nat Turner led a revolt 
losses fighting for freedom
rebellions spark hope in her heart
whispers spread she will be sold

Her master dies, the new master 
rents her to a local builder 
the builder permits her to rent herself 
she makes money, saves, saves, runs, runs
bends with the wind.

Empty of fear, full of dreams of freedom 
doors open, slips of paper lead her way 
through the Underground Railroad, 
a network of shifting safe houses

Her heart skips a beat,
beads of sweat roll, roll down her cheeks
she crosses, crosses the Mason-Dixon Line.

Free at last, lonely, life stands still
like a still life of shells and bones
she is cut off, she longs, longs for her family




The sounds of rattling chains, cracking whips,
echo in her ears, she hears her mother’s
cry, hears her mother's cry, she goes back, 
helps her family, friends escape, escape 
on foot, through cemeteries, swamps, 
around hills, she never losses a passenger.

A will as strong as a rock
a will to endure, persevere 
a will to help others
nineteen times she goes back 

Shoes worn, spirits strong
more than three hundred slaves escape 
Harriet Tubman is nicknamed “Moses” 
for her fearless bravery, 
thump, thump, thump
bounty hunters on her trail.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

Post Comments

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Date: 3/7/2017 6:22:00 PM
So hard to read - so hard to face. You expressed it so well. Welcome.
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Date: 3/7/2017 2:23:00 PM
It nakes me smile you did three the same poems, but I guess you're trying out how bold, italics and regular look like :) That aside, this is wonderful poetry, really incredible and I am so awed! Welcome to PoetrySoup :)
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