We Could Not Bury Our Dead.

We did not bury our dead. We were
not allowed to take our lifeless
bodies to a grave. The Overseer
would drag the body to a ditch
and leave it there to rot, a reminder
we would suffer the same fate on
the whipping post or the hanging
tree. In the south oak trees, were
beautiful when looked at by choice,
but there were too many low hanging
branches that wore the marks of
ropes. The same tree the
plantation owner sat with his family,
in the shade, sipping a drink and
reading to his children. A black
child, my child walked by and
showed interest in the book, and
he was slapped down and told “he
was too stupid to read.” I walked
over and picked up my son. “If you
taught us your language, why do
you think we can’t learn the
words in your book,” I asked? The
plantation owner closed his book.
He sent his children to the house
and turned to me, “We taught you
the necessary words to make sure
you understood how to do the jobs
each of you has. If I hear you speak
of reading again, I will start with your
children, do you understand?” “I
understand, what you are saying is
we can emulate you as long as it is
using the broken English you think makes us
sound stupid and subservient. I
know your words and now that I
have shown how we can speak.
I will go back to saying Yes suh,
and no suh. I walked away
wondering if I had signed my
death certificate, but when I
looked down at my son, the
pride in his eyes made
whatever happens to me,
worth it. The next morning
I was whipped and then hanged.
The plantation owner held my son’s
face so he could not look
away. My son watched as I died.
He reached out to touch my
a lifeless body, but he was not
allowed. For the first time in
his life he saw a loved one
tossed in the ditch, and it
broke his heart that he
could not bury his dead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.