Lynn W. Petty
Appalled - Poem by Lynn W. Petty
I gasped at what I held in my two hands.
My son had handed me the leather whip,
A bullwhip, five feet long, a master used
To subjugate his slaves unto his will.
And then, he handed me the branding irons,
Which heated to a red-hot glow were used
To brand a human as a master's own.
I felt disgust, appalled, to think they scorched
A person's brow, or seared a woman's breast
To indicate a master's ownership
Of human beings. Slaves were classified
As lower than the cattle in the field,
Who lived in quarters, a degree above,
What masters would provide for their prize pigs.
Slave girls were tagged as 'breeders, ' bred like dogs,
To bind in servitude their newborn child.
A slave was valued by his 'use, ' not by
His human value. He was bought and sold
Upon an auction block, with heifers, hogs
And brooder mares, like chattel on a farm.
Denied all self-respect and dignity,
Through burning indignation, slaves maintained
An inner purpose which prevailed despite
The efforts to debase them less than swine.
What was the mastic causing them to live
When death was far their better choice than life?
An old black man advised me of the cause.
'There was a bond of faith they found within
Their gospel, where they heard the Word of God,
Both sung and spoken from the church lectern.
A basic trust that God would elevate
Them from their desperate depravation. They
Endured because of those who were to come,
The future generations, whom they hoped
Could rise above the level, which the slaves
Themselves then lived. Belief blazed up like fire
Through their religion. An awakening,
Had lighted the dark caves of their deep grief,
Ignited from the embers of their dreams.'
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