We stop in Southside Virginia,
Early autumn, 1949,
Leaves a soft gold.
A restored-plantation visit.
Just like the illustrated (and sanitized – no poor, no sickness, no frowns)
Books my conservative aunt and uncle would send:
New England colonies, Mid-Atlantic colonies, and
Southern colonies – those with plantations, like this one –
And black workers – never called slaves ….
We walk the plantation.
We visit slave log cabins – yes “slave” was used there in that piece of history ….
That night, deeper down small-town-South-tobacco-US 301-no Interstates –
In central North Carolina
I wrote to that aunt and uncle,
Told them those slave cabins in Virginia were “quaint.”
I wrote another card the next day.
Describing a local slave market – restored – as “quaint.”
My parents said nothing.
My aunt and uncle thanked me for the cards.
Those cards and “quaint” came to me the past month with books:
Black Water Rising –
Cutting Season –
Warmth of Other Suns –
Strange Fruit –
Expendable Man -.
Half a Heart –
Then, I saw – just last week – a homeless black woman on an old church’s steps
Washing clothes by hand –
New cars passing, stores selling.
She wasn’t quaint, not at all ….
Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, late January 2013:
Author: Gene Novogrodsky
Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, a Brownsville resident for nearly three decades, writes North American border slices, from eastern Canada to central Mexico, and in between. He is one of the founders of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Writers Forum in San Benito. He sometimes participates with the informal Resaca Writers Group in Brownsville. He prefers, however, to read to two or three attentive listeners – when asked!