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  • Underground 50" x 30" Oil on canvas

    . . . I should probably just get over it

    In the house my grandfather built in the Mississippi Delta, my sister and I slept in the small bed pushed against the wall beneath the window. Under heavy quilts, we would shiver in the ice cold cotton sheets until our bodies finally warmed and relaxed. I'd fall asleep watching the fireplace at my feet. The sun would wake us early. In the house surrounded by grass and trees filled with pecans and apples, pears and figs, peaches and pine cones, we dreamed. This was the house my mother was born in. My grandfather built it for his family.

    We worked and played in this remote place, separated from the left-over segregation in the cities. Whites. Coloreds. NO. I didn't understand the signs I read when we went to town. No one would explain. Instead there was so much talk of a loving God; I thought I would grow up to be something, anything I could imagine. No matter what anybody else said, I knew. I kept quiet. Then we went back to the city. We went north to a city with no signs.

    The pain in this city was cold and intense. Still, I thought I could be something, anything I could imagine. It was the magic of my family's belief. It was the isolation. The frustration my mother tried to hide behind the brightness of her spirit. She wanted a certain kind of life for her family. She worked for it. She prayed for it. She could not look at the abuse. It would mean she had failed. She could not fail. She believed. I took it all in. I could not let her fail. Her grandchildren will have the kind of life she wanted for us.

    Detail — Underground