Janice N. Harrington | Poetry

Wasn’t nobody on that prairie
that looked like me—

and yet—coneflower or Black Samson,
that new bluestem they call prairie blues.
Say, that new, new grass they call the prairie blues.

Micheaux’s camera-eye and how it read
that black dirt: He was young, The Homesteader,
—just passed twenty-twoand vigorous,
strong, healthy and courageous.

Brooklyn, Brushy Fork, Buxton,
Lyles Station, Pinhook, DeWitty,
always a church, always graves,
always some sign: Negro Creek, Negro Hill.

Wasn’t nobody on that prairie,
that looked like me—

and yet for Gordon Parks,
a Black boy lying in a field of green
under scepters of thistle.

Wasn’t nobody—and yet

bodies bound by razor wire,

Black bodies falling, fallen
above the ghost of a black-soil prairie.

And as far as I could see, Hughes wrote,
. . . nobody . . .

and yet—

by road, by rail, by resolution,
by axles burdened with all they owned, they came,
moving like wind through tallgrass, wave after wave,
multitude and boundless and coming on.