Dare to Dream

My great-grandma
dared to dream when dreamin’,
itself, was only a dream.

Crouched beneath the Cottonbush,
she crawled, clawed,
then ran her way
to freedom, into the arms
of a Chaktaw.

There among a new nation,
her dream burned on the hearth
where she pounded it flat,
bent and shaped it to be
what she hoped could fit,
what she hoped could support
a new generation.

My grand-mama, green-eyed,
black Mississippi Indian,
lived within and without,
neither red not black.
She fearlessly dreamed
in broad day light,
encouraged my grand-daddy
to own a few acres
where he could plant,
plow, grow, till it became
10, then 20, then 50.

My mama, Priscilla,
carried me on her back,
worked my step-daddy’s land.
Her face gleamed with the sweat
of a hard day’s work.
She plunged her hands
into the spring of her dreams
and drank to be satisfied,
hopin’ for better days to come.

I chased my dreams north
then lost them along the way,
or maybe as I fumbled through the dark
my ambitions faded,
and I forgot ‘em.

But I gave birth to new hope,
new meanin’,
but my arms were full
of city livin’ and empty of provisions,
so I gave my babies away
and dared a dream for them.

On the wide, open fields
of their granddaddy’s farm,
my children grew, tall
like the corn stalks,
then scattered—east, west, north—
but the seeds of their souls
always found solace
back in their grand-mama’s garden.

Now, in my old age,
I’ve chased my dreams
south, home again,
hopin’ to find forgiveness,
diggin’, rootin’ my regret
in the moist Mississippi mud.

I telephone my children, everyday.
This is your mother, I tell them.
Tell those grand-babies, I love ‘em.