Jacob Lawrence, The Life of Harriet Tubman No. 15. In the North, Harriet
Tubman worked hard. All her wages she laid away for the one purpose of liberating her people, and
as soon as a sufficient amount was secured she disappeared from her Northern home, and as mysteriously
appeared one dark night at the door of one of the cabins on the plantation, where a group of trembling
fugitives was waiting. Then she piloted them North, traveling by night, hiding by day, scaling the
mountains, wading the rivers, threading the forests--she, carrying the babies, drugged with paragoric.
So she went, nineteen times liberating over 300 pieces of living, breathing "property."
There was a night when she glowed in the dark.
Our first summer together. The house I live in as a senior in college. I've inherited
the largest bedroom, one side of the place, filled with books inside milk crates, and
a single mattress on the floor. A dark, dark night. Blinds and curtains closed, doors
closed. It's quiet. I awaken. There's light dancing on the ceiling. Peach
and gold, rippling like a pool of liquid jewel. You're asleep in my arms. We're naked
beneath a single thin sheet, which has fallen around our hips.
I thought at first I was dreaming, but, I was able to change things inside the room, and in the
morning they were as I'd changed them. For instance, I turned the electric clock face-down,
to be sure it wasn't light from its red LEDs I was seeing. It wasn't.
I waved my hand in the air above her head. It made a gray-colored shadow on the ceiling. I
moved it over her back: the shadow moved. Closed my palm into a fist: the shadow became smaller.
Opened and spread my fingers, the shadow grew.
The light came from her. Peach like the color of her skin, gold like the color of her hair,
rippling in rhythm with her breathing. I watched it a long time.
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© 2002-2013 Mark Phillips.
All rights reserved.
Published 10/02: Physik Garden.
This writing is fiction. Please don't confuse it with reality.