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The Cloud of Witnesses and the Power of Creation


https://amzn.to/3oPtOQ0

There is power in creativity. There is power in making something out of nothing.


When I released my ebook A Cloud of Witnesses: Poems for Survivors on Amazon in 2019, I never realized the power of creativity until long after the book was released.


Dear reader, there is a power in creating the thing that you have longed and desired to see within this world. There is a power in actualizing your dreams, and taking a risk in seeing the manifestation of hidden dreams and talents. As you read the poem which inspired my ebook, I encourage you to open up your own proverbial notebook and pull out some hidden gems that you have been fearful of pursuing, and step out with a leap of faith and pursue something new in 2021.


“Cloud of Witnesses”

Elizabeth Peprah


The slaves gathered

Down by the riverside

Dancing

Down by the riverside

Down by the riverside


Sunday

Was their day of freedom

So they danced

Down by the riverside

Down by the riverside

Hooray!


Except for one


She paced.

Her heart raced.


The riverside was her freedom

And escape from bondage

No more white hands fondling her breasts

Or rather her chest

[See, she was only a child]


She looked into the river

As a dancing slave’s head

Bounced at the sight


“DEAR GOD! SHE JUMPED!”


-R.I.P. Sally-Mae, 13 years old


It’s the cloud of witnesses

Dancing in the breeze

Watching with ease

Every victimized woman

The cloud

Surrounds us

Expounds us into something greater

Enveloping those without hope

Cheering us on

When the light in our eyes is gone

With every thrust and threat of his weapon

Turning love into hatred

And despair

Leaving those to forsake prayer

“No, my sisters, this should not be”

Sings the cloud of witnesses


Sally-Mae’s descendants marched

With MLK


“Ruby the Beauty”

Was renowned for her looks

And it took a truck full of

Drunk hooligans from the Klan

To show themselves as “the man”


Taking turns to rape her

Humiliate the fate

Of her womanhood

Putting her in her place

For her beautiful existence


She stills her breathing

A year later, her little one is teething

The father was one of them

She sighs and cries

At the remembrance

Of that fateful night

And with all her might

She drowns her baby


In the little lake behind her home

She couldn’t allow her baby to bloom

“beloved”

‘I would rather erase her from the face of the earth than allow her to go through what I suffered and more’


Who will fight for the Negro woman?


As baby June’s body lay still

Ruby took a few large stones

And placed them in her coveralls


Each step felt like eternity

As she walked deeper and deeper

Into the river of sorrows

If she knew that that same

Water dripped with the blood of her ancestor Sally-Mae

Perhaps Ruby would never have done it


“GOOD LORD, SHE JUMPED!”


Her husband moaned

As he returned from work to see

The lifeless bodies of all that

Was left of his new family


Who will shed a tear for the colored woman?


It’s the cloud of witnesses

Dancing in the breeze

Watching with ease

Every victimized woman

The cloud

Surrounds us

Expounds us into something greater

Enveloping those without hope

Cheering us on

When the light in our eyes is gone

With every thrust and threat of his weapon

Turning love into hatred

And despair

Leaving those to forsake prayer

“No, my sisters, this should not be”

Sings the cloud of witnesses


Every night that she heard

Footsteps

Coming into her room, she puked


He was supposed to be her father

But 10 years after her mother committed infanticide and suicide with one blow

It erased everything that she ever did know


Her father forced her to become his mistress

They called her Sally-Mae

After a mysterious great-aunt of hers

Who ended her life as a slave


Sally-Mae wiped the tears from her eyes when he was done

And loaded a shotgun


She tiptoed to her father’s bedroom

Feeling like Nat Turner in his revolt


Her hands shook

As the “boom”

Erupted in the quiet farmhouse

Blood.

All she saw was blood,

Everywhere.


Sally-Mae cried as she walked

Towards the riverside

Moaning

Down by the riverside

Sighing

Down by the riverside


The moon shone brightly

Fireflies danced in the sky

“It was such a beautiful night to die”, she cried


One step

Two steps

Three steps

Four


This time, there was no one around to acknowledge the jump.


No one except the cloud of witnesses.


The congregation swayed and hummed

Tears of sorrow

As they watched the death of their future tomorrow


Three generations lived and died

Down by the riverside

Down by the riverside


Years from now

Family gatherings will tell a different tale

Of mental illness in the

“Women of the family”

But they never knew the truth


My sisters, this should not be


Shhhhhh.


“We see.”


-Whispers, the cloud of witnesses.


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