The power of a people reside in how they tell their stories. For descendents of slaves, African Americans, we don’t have many written records of the powerful stories our ancestors. The voices of those whose blood courses through our veins were effectively silenced by the system of chattel slavery. Slavery isn’t even something we as Black people want to talk about; it’s something we want to place in its own little compartment and reference it when we’re talking about racism and put it right back the second we start to feel pangs of inferiority and shame. Yet, there were true tales of survival, triumph, fortitude, enduring love, and even lust that slaves shared that have gone untold for centuries. This is one such story.
E’ry night, I gotta sneak out ‘n tend to my man. He taint none uh my husband on paper cuz ole Massa says niggers not ‘posed to get married legal ‘n all like de white folks but we jumped de broom under de full moon so I says we’s married. Maw says it too so dats good ‘nuf fo’ me. Adam, dats mu husband’s name, like in da bible, like de first man dey ever was. Dat ain’t his real name. His real name is … well … I cain’t say it outside ma head cuz it don’t be ‘lowed fo’ slaves to have no name lessin’ a white person give it to ya. Adam is big ‘n strong ‘n black as midnight. He stands tall as a tree and his arms be as big as a canon. His eyes is dark and sad, you kin see de sadness in ‘em like when he be lookin’ at sumtin that don’t be dere. He say he be memberin’ his real home, his real kin folk. He’s smart cuz on de boat over here, da captain learned him to read ‘n write ‘n do figgers but dis here Massa don’t know nuffin’ bout dat.
Dey call me Margaret on dis here plantation. When I’s a little girl, I had anuva name but I don’t reckon what it was no mo’. I jest member dat when I come here to da McKinley Plantation in Latta, SC, ole Misses say she don’t like da name I come wit so she change it to Margaret. Sometimes, ‘n my mind, I pretend like I’s Eve ‘n he’s Adam like in da Garden a Edun ‘cepin Massa say ain’t no niggers in da bible. I don’t be carin’. Sometimes, I closes my eyes ‘n sees us runnin’ around all free ‘n happy like. I’s scurred o’ snakes sumtin fierce in real life so I don’t eat dat dang apple in my mind’s eye, we’s just be free ‘n happy … free ‘n happy.
See, me ‘n Adam was runnin’ fo freedom when da catcha’s dun snatched us up in some place called Louisville. Folks say we wuz almost to freedom iffin we wasn’t catched. T’was my fault we got catched. I had my moon flow ‘n we was in de woods ‘n I didn’t have no cotton to swab up de blood so we jest walk ‘n walk ‘n walk most de night ‘n durin’ de day we hide. All de time we wuz walkin’, I was leavin’ a trail for dem ole dogs to follow. Adam dun tried to carry me but he was too tired from walkin’ all dem nights. I tole him to leave me be and go on but he wouldn’t. Dem ole hounds caught de smell o’ my blood ‘n tracked us ‘n catched us right on up ‘n brought us back to here to ole Massa.
Massa tell de ova’sea to do ev’rytin’ to Adam ceptin’ kill ‘em. Well, he say not to cut him down dere cuz he need him right for breedin’ ‘n all cuz Adam is a good bull. He make good babies for massa to sell fo’ lots of money. I kin’t have no babies cuz my insides t’aint right after ole Massa dun used a broken bottle on me dere. But I’m a fancy, meanin’ I’s yella cuz my pa was my ole Massa, so dis here Massa keeps me round for his “musemint” is wut he be callin’ it. I call it hell. See, Adam don’t love me cause I’m half white, he love me cuz I got … wut he call it … a regal air ‘bout me. I taint positive wut dat means fo’ sho’ but he say dat I be a queen where he from, a real live queen wit a crown ‘n all.
Massa say not to beat me. I was hopin’ to get da whip cuzin I know da pain of da beatin’ be ova in a few days. Wut massa do to me, dat pain don’t neva go way. Dat pain be in my heart, you know, you kin’t touch it but it be dere, from de sun to da moon ‘n back to da sun one mo’ ‘gain. Massa hurt me down dere. He make sure I know not to run away no mo’ ‘n he make me do awful things to make me pay. He say I need to know my place so he tell his sons to do things to me down dere too. Iffin’ I wuz all de way white, I could choose who could know me in de bible way. Slave gals don’t have no say in dat.
Adam been down almost 2 weeks. His fever dun broke but he tain’t ate nuffin’ yet. I be givin’ him tea with hyssop, nettle, ‘n honey in it fo’ when he get his strength back. Dey’s healin’ roots from in de bible so I knows dey gotsta work. His wounds got ‘fected real terrible like ‘n I had ta clean ‘em e’ry night after doin’ ma chores. I knows he gunna be betta, I’s can feel it in ma bones.
Sometimes, when I look at Adam, my eyes fill up wit tears and my heart feel like it wanna ‘splode like a fire cracker. I loves him more dan anythin’ in de whole world. I knows with e’ry bit o’ my soul dat Adam loves me with e’ry bit o’ his soul too. Massa say niggers ain’t got no souls. He say only white folks got souls but he crazier dan a loon. Even I know a soul is what makes you ‘live, a soul be da thing dat makes you sing ‘n dance ‘n jump around.
God dun answered my prayas. Adam is ‘woke. He’s still weak but da fire be back in his eyes. Ole Sadie say he pull through cuz he gots pure African blood in ‘em. Well, dat ‘n de love of a gud womin. She help me get fixed up nice an purty for Adam and de ovah slaves done left and let us be alone in da quarters.
I went to Adam in de night. He weren’t sleep none, he wuz just layin’ dere, eyes open, like he been waitin’ for me. He say I smell real sweet. I put some ‘o de missus toilet water straight from Paris France behind my ears. I let my frock fall to da floor and I stood dere, with nothin’ on but da light from da moon dat wuz lightin up da room, and showed myself to him. I could see da covers movin’ down below so I knowed he was happy to see me. I slid under da covers wif ‘im and he was warm to da touch. He wrapped his arms ‘round me and I felt safe ‘n … I felt like a womin is ‘posed ta feel. I put my leg ova his leg and my arms ‘round his body. His skin was smooooooooth like a baby. He put his full sof’ lips on mine ‘n kissed me, real gentle like. It wuz like he was sayin’ thank you fo’ takin’ gud care ‘o me, not wif words but wif kisses. My nature dun start ta rise and my body dun start ta squirmin’ ‘n wigglin’ round like a cat in heat. My lady parts wuz tinglin’ sumpin’ fierce. I neva get dose feelin’s with ole Massa. Sometimes, I wishes dat only Adam knowed me like a husband knows a wife but, tain’t so.
He started to nurse from me, Adam did, just like a baby does from his mama. T’weren’t no milk coming out o’ me tho’, just noises from me that say I liked it. And when he started ta touch me in my special place, it felt real good, real good indeed. His fingers went down where da daisies grow ‘n he wuz pettin’ it real soft. Seem like e’ry time he do dat, I start makin’ sounds I cain’t control. It be like a strange tongue be comin’ out ‘o me dat I don’t have no have power ovah. I was like a ripe peach with all ma juices flowin’. ‘N you’se can best b’lieve dat his rod was stiffer dan all get out. I took him in my hands and stroked him. He liked it, I could tell. His sap started to leakin’ and he was thrusting his hips.
I didn’t want him to climb on top ‘o me cuz I didn’t want him to get too weak so I had to do all de work. I got on top ‘o him ‘n he filled his hands with my backside and I joined with him. My, my, my. We was together, nuffin between us but love. I put my hands on his chest ‘n started ridin’ him like he was one ‘o Massa’s prime stallions. Our bodies was movin’ together, poundin’ out a rhythm in time sorta like a drum beatin’ out our song of love. I see’d Adam’s eyes roll back ‘n his head and I knowed he was ready to spill his seed. Dere I was, filled up with joy and his manhood, his eyes were locked wit mine, ‘n he was whispering to me in his real tongue. I don’t be knowin’ wut he be sayin’ when he talk dat African talk but it sound real nice and I feel de meanin’ somehow. He be sayin’, “Margaret, I’s gonna love you til de end of time.” I say it right back too, with my heart.
Copyright 2013 Scottie Lowe