Orginally written for the Earle Richardson Ekphrastic Review Writing Challenge:
My Foot in Theirs
Could these be footprints long hardened in rock ? I wondered as I stepped on the mound; The lives once defined in the sand- coloured clay, Hard spent under the glare of the sun. I closed my eye to imagine Striped cloth in line with regimental row, Determination and order: the strength of the women Upright and strong defining conformity Robed and stooped but not in submission, In dutiful bond Stepping in unison , labouring hard United in pose, in colour and creed Protective Protected? – a different question Unshod in slavery’s emblazoned position Cotton picking but singing forbidden, Irrespective of age, lives bought for a price; What when they’re gone Like imprints on sand, Slavery scrubbed out like a stain on the land? But the footprints were there, I’d seen them, I knew The contoured maps Of lives on their skin In the way that they moved in the toil that they did; Ashamed what the price of freedom meant I thought as I planted my foot in their place.