A poem by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers


 
 
 
 
“The Prophetess Sojourner Truth Discusses the Two Different Versions of Her Most Well-Known Speech, One Nearly Unknown and One Very Beloved Yet Mostly Untrue”
 
 
 
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
 
 
 
 
I believe that white lady
meant well, but she took liberties
with my story.
There was a pint,
and I am a woman,
but I never did bear
thirteen young.
There was an audience,
and I did stand.
At first, hesitant, but then,
speaking God’s clear
consonants in a voice
that all might hear, not
with apostrophes feeding
on the ends of my words.
And I am six feet tall,
and some might say, broader
than any man.
And I was a slave.
And my child was taken
from me, though I fought
to get him back.
And I did work hard.
And I did suffer long.
And I did find the Lord
and He did keep
me in His bony-chested embrace.
And if I showed you my hands,
instead of hiding them in my sleeves
or in a ball of yarn,
you could see my scars,
the surgery of bondage.
And I have traveled to and fro
to speak my Gospel-talk—
surely, I’ve got the ear of Jesus.
But I forgive that lying woman,
because craving is a natural sin.
She needed somebody
like me to speak for her,
and behave the way
she imagined I did,
so she could imagine
herself as a northern mistress.
And there I was,
dark and old,
soon to fold my life
into Death’s greedy hand.
And in this land,
and in this time,
somebody who could never
shout her down.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

~ by samofthetenthousandthings on May 27, 2020.

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