Cane

Cane

A Story by Sarah Roehrig
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A short story in journal format that takes place in the mid 1800's about a European woman who is dealing with her families ignorance in the plight of slavery

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Cane

It was the year 1820 and King George IV was now the reigning king, his father died shortly before this was written. There would be 13 more horrifying years of slavery in the British West Indies. Contained are the accounts of a woman’s journey from her small farm in Pendle Hill of Lancashire England to Antigua of the West Indies.


Journal Entry #1- June 09

Black and white

No color, no light.

The stars have no glow upon the sky tonight.

Out in the open, they sit still as humans continue to bleed.

They scream, they cry, they look but they do not see.

Whole worlds are between us, no one has the key.

They say open your mind but oh these confines will not let us be.


I am afraid of you. and you afraid of me.

Together we fight, apart we bleed.

Lost we die alone. together we die free.

Day and day-we sit and we wait.

Watching our lies turn into regret-churning deeper into hate.

Who are you but a part of me, who am I but a piece of you.

We can always separate the two, but denatured we will be. It is hard finding your soul, when it is in a whole entity.


Today the sun never did come. A dark entity creeps among us. I feel this war on humanity and freedom will never end. How many I wonder share this same fear and dread of sudden annihilation. None know who will live, none know who will die. My husband however, keeps my fancy. He neither lies nor begs, rather he screams his truth into the depths of my soul. I suppose he is good for me considering I am full of loathing and lies. Full of disease and I am frail like a flower standing alone - amuck a storm. I strive to be perfect and beautiful but I fall apart before I have the chance.


Journal entry #2- June 10

When I married, I was young and foolish. I thought the man that proposed to me truly felt the sweet affections of love, as he sent a metamorphosis of butterflies in the linings of my stomach. The nature of reproduction and the nature of the heart. These asinine seasonings of lust- springing forth songs of new and embracing us with a soft touch of pleasure-the closest and furthest to heaven one can be. But what happens when these songs become enchanted with sirens and alter our perception of love. The echo of such a love supersedes us. Over fermented pastures of folly; like children we roll down and over the hills, accidentally crushing the thick bed of flowers created in hopes of our pleasure. We dance in the rain unaware of the dark and unforgiving clouds rolling in from the east; foreshadowing our soon to be misery and fright. Like a child plays with fire after its discovery of its reliable warmth and reaches its hand to touch the embers of creation and the newfound light and in turn, finds only pain. But with this comes a deeper understanding of the unforgiving state of nature. What was childlike me to do when Edward gave me my first taste of warmth and light. What was I do to when my submissive instinct and his pleasure in dominance over rode his intent not to harm the delicate woman I was. I was wed in holy matrimony, and so surely I exuded the right amount of womanly grace and sacrifice.  I gave birth to our first child within a year of our marriage, a girl. My husband was immediately disappointed and thus another small bump was formed under my dress. I was happy with one child - my beautiful sweet precious girl, but oh how I secretly longed for her to be of the male anatomy. Being a woman was no blessing. How I longed to go back to a time when I still might be full of tenderness and innocence. The last gift I possess is the sacrament of motherhood, but earth knows no fairer, holier relation than that of a mother. My husband married me with the intent of gaining the land my grandfather had passed down to my father. He was a farmer’s son and without a mother there were endless chores to be done. He grew up in the village north of mine. It consisted mostly of wide open country and open air. His mother had passed when he was only a boy, and his father, much like mine was physically and mentally abusive. He had no interest in matters of intellect, and although privileged with the permission to attend school he never did so. I however, taught myself to read when I was a young girl. My mother taught me the alphabet and basic mathematics. She had the privilege of acquiring a private education built for aristocrats daughters and was well versed in 18th century literature.  My father allowed her to assist me for she convinced him that it would help me in the art of cooking. My mother passed shortly after my first child was born, and my father left our home to cater to his alcoholism. I am haunted by what remains of my husbands lost forlorn heart, and the occasion of my stolen happiness. He began to abuse me shortly after the birth of our first son. Rarely does he ever cause enough harm for it to be shown - the marks he leaves upon my skin are not as brutal as the marks he has left upon my soul. However, the nature of his harm has not been enough to deplete my human spirit. He does not approve of my avid reading and writing. He feels a woman has a place, within the confines of her home where she is safe, secure. and can keep her angel-like innocence. But how much of a hypocrite is he for laying the cold hand of darkness upon my skin and into the depths of my soul. His has burned every book I have laid  my firm hands upon, except the Holy Bible. He wouldn’t dare lay a hand on God’s word. Not for religious reasons, but because of his cowardice nature.


Journal Entry #3 June 11th

I feel a sharp pain. The world sending me aneurysms and distress. I try to stand tall, but I am weak. My heart is beating, but why and how. Does it hurt you to look at me? At what I’ve become. Or are you afraid of the monster you have created. Do you love me? I must stop this nonsensical way of thinking. And I do, when your eyes send chills down my back, when your eyes grab my soul and shut the window pane. Do you regret marrying me? Do you regret the house we built or rather you inherited. Did you cherish those possessions of our love. I can’t keep fighting your shadow. It would take a million lives to save one soul. Who is the enemy? Is it love? You have a weapon. I can feel your hand holding it, ready to fire away at any second. To destroy and conquer my love and your fear. Why do your eyes sparkle as if the heavens have left a scar. The sky is falling and the clouds are turning black. I’ve had visions of a peaceful death, one without you. What a thing to admire, what a devil to rewire my self pleasure. I looked to you to find heaven and peace and now I look to you no more. I look down on the cold part of earth where you once stood. I tremble with uncertainty, but I smile with volume. The truth is, the truth is not. It is locked away in a vault trapped beneath your evil.


Journal entry #4- June 12 1:32 P.M.

There’s a storm coming. I can feel it it in my bones. My husband is always quite irritated during this time, when the sky falls in. I find it humorous and beautiful as if mother nature herself is spilling her tears upon humanity, cleaning and purifying the earth. Why is God always referred to in a masculine way, when nature is free, never bounded, and God is indeed found in nature. Mother nature only wants us to embrace her; not destroy her graces. Although she seems unforgiving at times the sun always shines more brightly than ever after a storm. My children have started asking questions. Questions my husband refuses to answer. He punished them for asking why they were painted white by God. He knew I had started talking to them about slavery and of my families past. He grabbed them both by the neck and threw them out of their chairs at dinner time. I tried to stop him, but he silenced me with his bloodshot eyes.


June 12 6:50

My great-grandfather was a thief before he was a merchant. He grew up dirt poor, and had to steal to survive. He served four years in a jailhouse in Westminster,  because of the circumstances of his horrid life, before finally being set free by a prostitute he befriended when he and she were younger and whom he honestly loved. They wanted to marry when they were young, but time had locked their love away. Through the years she became tainted with horrific bodily crimes and disease and he was still young when he was released, and so she set his body and love free. Soon after he spent the remainder of his days on the open water and beneath the open sky - a world of possibilities awaited him. He became a savvy merchant and was an expert on the high waters. He even captained his own ship before he ended the course of his adventurous life. I remember my grandfather telling me stories of his father’s travels to the West Indies and what I remembered most was the horrible conditions of the enslaved. I shudder to think what if I had been into slavery? To have my children stripped from me, to be taken halfway across the globe to an unknown far off land with brutish cross eyed men - all strangers, shrouding light with their internal darkness. You see my great-grandfather had mercy, he knew many men who traded the merchant life of selling trinkets and baubles to selling slaves, yet he never did. He said he would sooner watch his own people sell their souls to fine china, then watch his soul disperse into the underworld of slavery. But my grandfather, his son was of a different opposition. He was born out of wedlock and his mother had died while giving birth. His soul had been sold the day he turned thirteen and watched his father drown on an apprenticeship. An African had escaped a plantation in Antigua where my grandfather had sailed with his son, while introducing him to the life of a merchant. The man made it to the shore and jumped into my great grandfather's vessel. The scared man lunged forward at my great-grandfather, knocking him overboard, and into the sea they plundered - all the way into the depths of the ocean. My grandfather threw a rope into the water, but the slave had submerged his father and constricted his ability to swim. I suppose my grandfather had no mercy on the epidermis after the event he witnessed, and he was too young to understand the entireties of slavery. In later years, he became very acquainted with slavery, for he developed  a keen interest in making a living on selling souls, finding himself a successful slave trader that prospered greatly in the external world. His spirit, however, did not prosper. He was a ferocious man who would snap at any moment's notice. Each time he returned from his long voyage to the West Indies he would come home less of a man. I imagine each word that left his mouth sent chills down my father’s spine and I’ve heard tales from my mother of how he abused my father ruthlessly. In return, my father became an even more grotesque version of this man whom he grew to hate. However, my father inherited his most prized possession, the beautiful yet humble farmhouse and land that surrounds me today. Because of my grandfather’s wealth, my father did not have to follow in his footsteps, nor did he want to, but he chose not to work for his own reasons. He was idle and careless. Spoiled by abuse and wealth. My father abused my sister, and my mother and I, often times in the most atrocious manner. Once I dared to look this man in the eye for I was young and trying to find his soul. I questioned him on the intricacies of slavery. Why must it exist? I was too young and naive, but he was quick to answer my question. He made me light a candle and put my arm directly on the flame for a long while. Much of my flesh melted away, and he watched it evaporate with joy. Soon after, he led me outside and flung me into the barn with the cattle. He said if I wanted to be a lover of negroes, I would have to become one and spend the night with the animals while learning to beg and stay.


Journal entry #5 - June 13

Society is but a painful melody, a cruel song with the iron weight of heartbreak.

Today, I took my children a-roving through the vacant forests near our home. I love losing myself in nature. Being the angel in the house gets tiring, I never minded helping my mother with the garden or my father with the outdoor labor when I was punished or when he needed an extra hand when the help was sick. When I was younger we had one servant from Antigua, her name was Ria. She was well into her life by the time I was born. She had raised my father and had been an integral part of his upbringing, although he never took this into consideration and talked to her very much like a wild beast. And my mother especially treated her as if she was an unwanted guest before she passed, shortly after my younger sister was born. One memory that will forever be stained in my deepest sentiments is gardening with her and escaping into the weeds and flowers. I loved breathing in the fresh air of a spring day, watching the beautiful spectacle of the sun, shining its glorious light onto the darkness I cringe to recall. I felt connected to the earth in a way I never could be inside surrounded by four walls. I longed to feel the wind, God’s touch, and all of creation, filling my lungs with the purest air. This is why I love to watch my children run free in the woods. Their father does not let them run around, he says they resemble crazy gazelles-leaping forth without any thought other than “run”. I find it graceful and beautiful. I relate more to animals than most people. They have such a soft nature, they mean no harm, they only want to protect themselves and live. They of course can inflict pain, but only if they feel threatened. My husband was thrown off a horse when he was younger, and for this reason I feel he is afraid of God’s creatures. I am only afraid of man. For he often throws me to the strangest of lands.


Journal entry #6- June 15

The flowers have lost their color and the trees have lost their breath. Today, I received a letter from my sister. Included was an invitation to her wedding. An elegant embroidery outlined the white face and dainty letters. I pray she marries for love and not just for comfort, for she will soon find no comfort in lonely nights and a cold touch. She will be the bearer of a life filled with lies and betrayal. I warned her of these vices. And also having children too soon. You haven’t a choice of any, once your child depends on your security and your security depends on your husband. He owns an enormous sugar plantation in Antigua, and reins over many colonial properties of the British empire.I know she will be well taken care of financially, but oh how I pray the vices of slavery have not taken a hold on his soul and filled it with an unseen darkness- making him incapable of love of any form. Much is ado to the man that provides not only precious love to his wife and children but provides not in selfish meaningful abundance merely material things. I pray he has a sense and awareness of his duty to serve justifiably and humbly. How can men expect their wives to serve the table if the table is denatured and rustic with a tendency to bend and break? Build the table right and your wife will serve you right. This is the advice that I gave. I have a tendency to seek truth. And what is marriage if it is not true?


Journal entry #7-June 16

Users. Abusers

They do not care. They only want to use you. To use your last breath as you breathe your last. Inhale. Exhale. They live in your hell. Open the gate. Behind the iron wall there is only rock, there is only hate for you. For your kind. As “his”tory goes on your presence is denied inside those tiny lines. Specimens are left and shattered. Drag me back to hell, make me pay for my lost soul. Sold too young. Told too old. This lullaby I sing in the fallen sky, take me with you I hope and I cry. What a criminal you say, what a thief. What a journey, I think, what a relief. Where do they dwell. Pieces of sharp glass, cutting into my silhouette. The pale white moon of your disguise.Tear me into white paper and burn me in the flame.


Another long monotonous day has passed, and I am longing for a new day, one that is filled with delight and soft pleasure. My husband has left for “business”, and would not bother to tell me the truth of his voyage. I could sense he was hiding a dreadful secret, and he claims to return at the next full moon. Fortunately, this gives me more time to write and I will not have to fake making a list of chores, whilst actually writing provocative incentives in the meanwhile. Such a contradictory matter over my mind. I get the sense my husband is not only foreboding over my love of words but has trouble understanding  and finding meaning in anything other than rationality and logical modes of doing. He has always struggled with the art of language and the fervor of literature. His mind has been sawed into.


Journal entry #8- June 17

Unconscious

What lies down the stream cannot always be at rest or at ease Even today, as muddled as it seems is lost in the puddle of yesterday's’ dreams.  

The voices change, the setting remains the same. Latch onto me and see lashes redirected - pointing you towards the sun. I want to create, not intimidate. These words I have written, they are my escape. The landscape I have inherited, seeks to integrate my being. The sky open wide with chances and deep regret. I paint a picture with my eyes on the planter. Open wide the being within your existence. What do I have left?

I have the warmth of the brilliant sun, the words of a man undone, the place surrounding me, the trees never doubting me. The spirit forever clouding me.


Nature speaks

Wild whispers falling from your lips, smoky auburn, red fire war raging in your hips.

Cautionary measures I do take, in case the leaves from your branches arrive at my wake.

I throw stones onto the ground, and still you don’t mutter a sound.


Journal entry #9 - June 18

I try to find meaning in the woodwork - the cracks and accretions. Your memory is scattered across the floor, I can’t hear your voice anymore. It rains constantly in my mind, light scatters only to tease. Your wings are clipped , mine are broken. The days are creeping by and I can’t seem to move. The hourglass stops and the time is its token. How do I describe this feeling that has captured my pain. I know this won’t last; the world must come undone for us.

The wind screams, dandelions fall from the sky. The piercing shrill of your caress. The arc of the sky , mundane within this wild mess. The lost abrasion-the kiss of life. I try to make sense of the things that aren’t so clear. I try not to fall into the darkness. I try not to sniff the poppies, I dare not smell the odor. The aroma of deadly exits. The fire burns, it flickers it flames, I feel the day will never come nor the time, when the sun defeats the dark and burns up inside my mind. Outside a storm is coming, The wind blows violently as the trees call in their lost children, the sky is as thick as gold, and the ground trembles with fear.


Journal entry #10- June 19

                    Thunder

I feel as if I am walking in a circle. The days have become a circumference I cannot easily ratify. The chemicals are diluting my lips and still I feel so clean. The sky has fallen all around me and yet it clings to me. The air sustains itself, moving across the still. How can I walk down this path that is broken by erosion and stress. Every crack, every fault, what is this feature within my heart. A mess that one cannot rid of sits tidy beneath my toes and is worn down. Rugged, with the ability to only float. I test the water, using cautionary measures. The fear of drowning resides. I’m trying hard not to sink. What has made you into this being you have shone. The universe never created such a wonder. One glance in your direction and all I hear is thunder. Place your eyes upon the terrain, look up into the sky, let the rain wash away your pain. Let the water trickle down, let it capture your skin, let it rise and remain holy, let the cleansing begin. Feverish blemishes denote the beauty within. When all I feel is desire, and all you feel is sin. Your voice drives me over the edge. The lies. The deceit. All the things we said. How can I walk home when the road is gone and I am shunned. How can I make it to the other side without a gun. You tell me exactly what I’ve done, in your brutal language you serve me on the run. You spike my senses with a smile, and you throw your demons onto me all the while. In your eyes I am only a child, giving me a reason to act wild.





Journal entry #11- June 23

It has been a while since I have written. And I am now writing in a new journal that I must hide in the woods each night. A tragedy has taken place. The last night I spent alone without my husband, there was an intense rain.  Everything is in ruins. It will take years to reconstruct and rebuild this land - my grandfather's legacy. I have lost my home and I have lost my place inside. Edward blamed the storm on God and myself. He is a devout religious man, but my how he curses God, and I - his beloved wife for all the troubles in life. I say it is not fair to me, a quiet, plain woman or an imperfect God, to be blamed for something that cannot be controlled. And so this is where I stand. Today, I have watched the home I grew up in completely fall apart. My husband also found my journal, and now he has read the deepest parts of myself. He came home a night too soon for he heard news of the weather, the moon was still waning. Oh how my heart will never recover. He burned every last word and set my soul aflame. He yelled and cursed and beat me into a state of misery. In front of the children he called me a disgrace to mankind and he pushed me to the cold hard ground. He wished he had never become acquainted with a devilish woman like me, while he expressed in the most inappropiate manner why he had indeed married me to begin with. Not for love no but external reasons. I truly believe he is going to file for a divorce. Would it be delusional to welcome this event. I immediately wrote my sister and I await her reply. Surely she can find room for me and my children within the Liberty White Palace. I pray her husband is benevolent enough to let us stay. I have already began packing what is left, for most of things  have been ruined from the flood. What worries me most is the animals, some of the smaller ones drowned in the flood, poor creatures. They stood no chance in the eye of the storm. And the ones that are left will surely be left neglected by my husband. He treats the animals horribly. He has plenty of knowledge of how to run a farm, yet his negligence towards our home shows his character. I feed the animals out of my own pocket by selling vegetables in the local market. And I’ve tended to the farm an ample amount, compared to my flagging husband. He claims he hurt his back whilst falling off on another horse, while ”on business” and he’s barely lifted a hand since. There is almost no difference after the odious atrocity of the storm. This sullen place has always remained less than homely my whole life.


Journal entry #12- June 30

I have finally gotten word from my sister that my children and I are welcome to come stay in the Liberty White Palace with her and her most generous husband on their exquisite plantation in the West Isles of the British Indies of what is Antigua.


Clarece, I take it you know of your husband's position in my heart. A bold one at that. Fury will rage within my heart if he ever harms you again. I pray he is a good natured man with no intent of any such crime. Time will tell. Until then, you are without question welcome at our grand estates. We patiently linger in your arrival.

            In time,

            your dearest sister, Charlotte

She even enclosed three tickets for our seafare. I am pleased with this transaction. Although, the word Antigua has most definitely constricted my throat with an unknown apprehension. We shall make our departure in four days.


Journal entry #13 July 4th

Ode to the dewy morning

Oh sweet sun how I dost long forgotten you, dry the tears from thine eyes and shift your light upon my brow. Dance with me at midday and erect me from my sleep. How my soul aches for your fire. How my kind cannot fathom the loss of your medieval place in the sky. We are free at last. The embodiment of God in one’s being surpasses the infliction of pain upon one’s spirit and apprehends the formation of evil on all things biotic and nonliving. We shall make our way now to the promise land.


Journal entry #14 July 5th

It is now the second day of our voyage by boat to Antigua. Thankfully, my children have not become sea sick and I have found time to write. The water is calmer than usual.

                    Darkness Met

I remember the roads we used to walk. The world stood still and the wind shook us to our knees. So eager to stay, so eager to please. We were mad with thoughts of another place, another world we may enter into someday. Never realizing what was in front of us, never realizing what was ours, never meeting our fate. And so the days still go by and the seasons do change but the world unseen still shatters me unto a wall of such delirious scenes of hate. Long empty spaces and words unsaid. Tears shed. Darkness met. In this life, oh I do regret. Cast anything down, as I sip from the mighty crown. Is it virtuous to linger without a care. My being breathes songs of sadness and digests raw matter. Purifying thyself to purify thy mind, this is not for my health. But look deep within and take this light and use it to your advantage. Do not be afraid to let it burn. Let it surge through the many gaps and crevices of your conscious. Let it drown out your inhibitor. If only you could let it be. Oh let it be. Let it shine. Do you feel how it rises through you. Can you feel its presence merely without thinking. The truth is I never got to feel you without poison running through my veins. Never got to hold you without nonsense dissatisfaction and pain. The truth is I still think you’re a ghost. It may have been the dead flowers or the way the wind chilled my bones, it may have been the season, it may have been the cold. The truth is, I will never know, so I will howl at the moon and awaken the night; untie the knots that have been left undone, tangled, and wrought. The sky as my witness-the stars as my forgiveness. This truth I have sought; the truth is, the truth is what I have not.


Journal entry #15 August 8th 12:30 P.M.

And so we have arrived. The place is extravagantly decorated, and it’s humbling to know my family can rest well and is most politely taken care of. One thing that struck me as odd, her husband is almost never around. Im sure he has a lot of places to be but my sister complains of his absence in the most melancholy fashion. It seems he is already giving her the cold shoulder I warned her about, but I suppose it gives us the chance to catch up. She is growing up so fast, though her mind is weakening, I feel this material palace she has placed herself in has rotted her most delicate soul and alleviated mind. All she seems to bicker about is how her tea isn’t sweet enough , or rather it is too sweet. We grew up with an appreciative outlook, but she has climbed so far up the ladder, she has forgotten where she comes from.



Journal entry #16 August 8th 6:35

What a terrible sight I have experienced. One of the slaves on the plantation tried to make an escape with her newborn child. One of the overseers beat her black and blue, dragging her body across the rugged earth while her baby lay on her swollen chest. How could anyone with the smallest amount of sense let this happen? It’s a wonder her child survived for they ripped it from her arms and took it back to the slave quarters, after throwing the woman behind the bushes and blindfolding her. I then saw the brave whip. What a terrible sight. Not only to see a mother and child stolen from each others warmth and affection, but to see a man harm a woman knowing she is a mother, that is an atrocity. The sheer embarrassment I felt for not only the souls involved, but my own as well was deafening. I’ve been the witness of abuse my entire life, but never have I seen a body so broken, mangled, and fractured. And I realized then, how a white man could never feel so much pain. Could never experience such a horrendous struggle, nor understand the trial of true obscurity and the crepuscule of slavery.


Journal entry #17 August 10th

At dinner tonight, I decided to address my sisters husband. I should have known to approach the man alone. William James White, the second. His name fits him perfectly. How bland and flavorless. He was a ghastly man too, always disappearing, and showing up at times you least expected. He did as he pleased, and despite his affluence and opulent lifestyle, he failed to be anything less than transparent. His upholstered and plush commodities, did nothing to blind me from his vices. My sister was drowning in his copious indulgences. To throw your soul away with debauchery and indulgence is the greatest evil. I could not stand to sit still and be silent any longer. I informed Sir William what had happened two days previous, and on the evening of my arrival. And with a creepy, eerie laugh he made a personal toast to women who worry far too much for their own good. “Stick to what you know,” he smited. “And the rest will come in glory and gold.” What a hazardous thing to say. The eyes of the Lord must have pinched his shrill heart to no end. How others can take from others what they hold most dear is unfathomable to me, and it is this corrupt nature of mankind that does nothing to sanctify us. We should be pleased with what we have, and stray from gaining fortune in the woes of others. Man can not settle until he possesses the entire earth. It is a sick game, and it is played so often by humankind.


Journal entry #18 August 11th

I saw the woman today. Her dress was tattered and purple, and I could spot blood on the bottom fringe. She was holding her sides in pain while she worked beneath the burning sun. I wanted so badly to speak to her, and tell her the Lord was on her side. That she would prevail in the afterlife. I am not so fearful of what she would say, I am more fearful of allowing her to suffer. I am not going to write until I concur a conversation with her.


Journal entry #19 August 15

Sugar

She was bent over in the field.

Her back was strong, her body had no yield.

I recognized her at once.

She grew the cane and chopped it down - she was not aware that I was around.

I turned to face her - Caution took her side.

I handed her a bible, I asked her to confide.

Why must you run and hide?

Stay within these lines and you will be set free.

She laughed and in her African tongue, she cursed my God and my sun.

I wasn’t done, I placed my hand upon her skin.

Suddenly, the world was caving in.

She felt no different, I grabbed her hand.

I told her not to fear, for the real God is no man.

I asked her for her name. She answered with will.

My real name is Truth - my mother named me so.

My father refused, so they named me Ruth.

The closest to truth they could sow.


Journal entry #20 August 18

From the moment I approached Truth, I have become completely captivated. By her strength and of her motherly resilience. I often watch her out of my third story window and wonder, what does this woman think? About me - about this life - about God? I have not received any word from my husband, I suppose he feels no remorse for what he has done. My memory of him is shattered. It has been ten days and I have already grown ill with distorted anxieties. I don’t think I can stand this place much longer. Deep in my soul, a sea is rising - the corners are folding, and darkness is eating away the light. I can’t seem to see or make sense of anything. A misty fog has drawn out color. I can no longer see. I am blind to my own skin. I watch her with the eye of a poet, and the curiosity of a stranger glancing upon the heart and soul of a woman locked inside her home.

Cotton

White as the soft powdery tufts.

Light as a feather- I fall to the ground.

If I could fly - would they hunt me down.

Would they shoot, shoot me to the ground.

I choose to stand - stand my ground.

As a delicate object - I pay no mind.

But my soul bleeds - My heart melts for freedom.

Free freedom.Without paying a dime. Without shedding a single drop of blood.

Never will there come a time, where there is freedom.

Freedom without crime.


Journal entry #21 August 20th

                    Blood

I have seen the overseer crack his whip far too many times - blood gushing down the backs of men, women, and children. Infants hiding in a blanket of innocence. Mothers pregnant with shame, bellies gnawing with hunger. Bodies inside of bodies. Living souls inside tormented souls. Wrecked and warped by the shallow black hole of colonialisms vulgar disease. Draped in white - Monsters in the night. What is the equivalent of slavery but a man choking another with all his might.


Journal entry #22 September 23

The weather in Antigua is quite different than in the countryside of England. If only some it the light could spread over into my homeland. I watched as my sister fanned herself each day, sipping tea on her porch while sixteen slaves stripped their health and dignity away with their backs turned and heads down, bending over the solid earth, helping her husband build his fortune. “Hey Claire, can you save me some of that quill, I want to write something later.” I assured her she could use my writing utensils. I also started leaving my notebook in the cupboard of the wine chamber each night after writing, two woman who worked for my sister, Berth and Maya were teaching themselves the alphabet. I left a designated area for them to build their strengths and learn each letter.


Journal entry #23 September 25th

It was near dusk, the moon was giving away all the light it could muster in the pit of the sky. I felt a shiver all the way down the length of my body - never have I felt so ashamed.  If only God would show himself. I am slowly losing faith in prayer. I must no longer feel guilty within the abstraction of time, what a false conjecture. What is time but a bottled up excuse, floating down the river of conquest, waiting for a brave adventurer to open the pesky lid. I can not sit still much longer - time has left nothing but the oracles of man. I have thought of leaving the plantation many a time but for my childrens sake, I have remained. If only they were a bit older, I could leave without regret. Their hopes and dreams lie at my feet. I can not let them grow cold with fear and domesticated by the roots of slavery. To become brainwashed by my husband, they uncle William, and my poor ignorant sister. But they will remain free in a sense - free to live by their conscience, free to open their eyes wider than the confines - free to escape and become masters of their own will. It is decided. I must leave.


Journal entry #24 October 12th

Last night Truth said, “That man is gone, there’s nothin’ in his eyes,” with fear in her own. I gazed upon her with a frigid smile, trying to unfurl my lips from their rest. I noticed her hands were calloused, blisters opened and torn by the fields. I wondered what man she was speaking about.  She spoke again using a word I had recently taught her, “There’s a ghost around here.” I felt a darkened gloom resting around me and flashed back to my father striking a match under my arm. Something sank inside me then, and the moon wrestled with the shadows. We agreed. Soon after, she turned to me and said, “My master. He is my child’s father.” I can not bear this scenery any longer. I soon found out Truths infant, was born in terrible sin. It was Sir William’s child, and what I had witnessed when I first arrived was Truth’s escape, soon after the innocent child was born.


Journal entry #25 October 17th

It has been a moment since I’ve last written. Oh how I've missed touching the soft pad with hard ink. There is a boldness in words - to filter the mind and provide an escape from reality into the quiet, yet chaotic world of truth. Since I have last written, Truth and I have become well acquainted. I bridged a gap between us by showing her the word of God, so that she saw me as a magic channel she can meditate within, not as as a stranger, nor a white clown, merely clouded with thoughts of superiority and an immature sense of truth. I wanted to show her I stand as a body with a soul - nothing more, nothing less. Watching her each day I realized the length of her arms - smooth and unaffected, and her strong hands cleansed by the earth. The effectiveness of a woman’s spirit and soul over her body. Capable of anything, but told not to try. The ferocity, yet pure captivating and unrefined gaze in her eyes, set her apart from woman like me. I was wholeheartedly envious of her, and her of me. All of our chromosomes aligned in the same way - but it was this harsh reality that set us apart. I refuse to be part of this sick game, I cannot bear to watch this woman carry the weight of a world that was taken from her.  If no souls are yet free - let there be one. Why must I have a breath that heaves out of my chest by choice, a comfortable life, and I need not bleed too much for the man. Her soul has been torn from the body within. Her spirit depleted. Tested and tried. In their mind - she is only a body. No more. We have spent days planning our escape. We shall leave at sundown.


Journal entry #26 October 18th 2:02 a.m.

I rose from my slumber as the moon rose from its chamber between the stars in the sky , each light bore witness to my escape. I took one last look at the folly - the decorative pale pink drapes, the rosy wallpapered walls, and the thick quilted pattern of the bedspread. I eased myself into my dress, and slid on my boots, careful to place my steps quietly along the floor. I waited until sleep had closed the eyes of all who lived in the house, marking my steps by the tick of the grandfather clock fastened to the wall. I acquired the key to the shed where William kept his weaponry. The key was fastened neatly in a box which remained under the floorboard of the dining table. In order to acquire the key to unlock the box which held the key to the shed, I had pretended to be interested in a painting that hung on the wall overtop their bed and swept it out from Jonathan's bedside table when my sister turned her head to ask her most amiable servant, how much the painting had cost. She was distracted by the materiality of the question, and I seized the opportunity to acquire the key I would need to continue my escape.


October 18th 3:34 A.M.

Clarece smashed the glass with the long end of a broom, and she grabbed the rifle from its protective mirror. She led her way out of the white four cornered room of the lurid mansion and disappeared into the wild undomesticated night. She stood firm, undaunted by the eeriness of dawn. She had never appreciated this time at night, as fully as in that moment. The world was asleep, and she was out with a vengeance that no one could ponder. She snuck in the dimly lit shelter where it had been cast away from its mother, grabbing the sweet innocent child into her gracious arms as she hurried toward the other slave quarters. It was a spooky night indeed, and she began to feel many voices stirring about. Taking a wide glance around her she noticed Truth, Bible in hand, opened to the pages of scripture. God's word was surely entrancing her until Clarece stepped in and the book unraveled out of her hands, landing with a cold hard thud on the ground. Clarece continued in as quiet as she could muster, and grabbed Truths hand. They proceeded out of the door and the child was soon placed into its mother's arms. They gallantly placed themselves onto a saddle, on two of the finest breeds of horses one could muster. These horses were worth far more than any slave in the eyes of the men who acquired them. Soon, they would notice their precious investments gone, no longer restrained in the barn, no longer made to plow - they were soon to be wild horses. Never to return to the place where they worked so feebly for the white man. And  stood so still for the white man. As if made motionless by an external force more brute and powerful than any muscle. The song of freedom is redemption and pain. Truths firm, rough hand was filling up with sweat, as she tore the ends of her dress and wiped away the pool of worry, placing her hands gently against the center of the checkered pattern of her dress while turning her head left and right, eyeing any possible moment of capture. The horses feet landed with a hard thump onto the solid road to freedom. Both hearts danced wildly and effortlessly as they took on this new road. One that had never been touched by such essence and vital force, but only a careless artificial nature.The rhythm of the swift motion and gallop was musical and poetic, and together they became the soul that sang freedom. What is a body if it does not contain a hopeful song. One should keep a song to sing on the wickedest days on earth. For if we don’t have a song, a sweet melody deep in our bosom, we have nothing to sustain us, nothing to give us purpose. If we have purpose we have reason. But with knowledge, comes self conflicting truths. And if we have conscience, our guilt will eat away the lies until our soul begins to escape the hardened rock that lies in our deepest sentiments and darkest crevices. Never before had Clarece seen such unrefined beauty. She could feel the heat of Truth’s warm brown skin surging through her skeleton - her eyes were round and full, possessing a deep secret made invisible from the confines of sacred earth. The whites of her eyes were enough to suffocate one who was blessed by the sun, and she had never felt so alive, nor been so afraid. She became the moon, and Truth became the sky - empty of noise and chains, glorified and esteemed by the fullness of the night. She wanted to reach for her hand and make like the stars. She wanted to glow right beside her.

© 2017 Sarah Roehrig


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Added on January 7, 2017
Last Updated on January 7, 2017
Tags: cane, slavery, woman, England, Antigua, confines, fight, bleed, free, freedom, hate, soul, marriage, divorce, birth, children, materialism, motherhood, virture, holiness, aristocrats, abuse, violence

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Sarah Roehrig
Sarah Roehrig

Asheville, NC



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Inhale, Exhale & Hold Truth in the shadows of grief more..

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