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Leaning and Depending This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.


Shewas three, my mother,
When she first laid her big chestnut eyes on the immensechurch house,
Built what must have seemed to her eons ago,
By newly freedhands which dreamed of a land of milk and honey to parallel their ownExodus.
It stood that day in time, its door's portals welcoming andsecure.
My great grandmother stepped proudly,
Like a peacock, strutting inher elegant Sunday best,
Plumes and scarves and colors and hats as she isstill known to do, in Louisville, Kentucky.
My grandfather by her side, animmense man himself, 6' 7", broad.
He seemed almost a part of the church,quiet, solid, his form showing the markings of a hard life
His demeanorsilent, yet proud, today you see the scars are medals, for a victory our family'sPatriarch has won.

My grandmother stepped lightly behind, soft spoken, hermahogany skin as sweet as cinnamon,
Carrying my mother to church.
The bellsrang, clear enough signal for the hosts gathered to be seated.
The childrenwere sent down to the Sunday School area, and laughed and joked, in the clothesthey were only permitted to wear on Sunday.
The adults taking seats on thegreat oak fashioned pews listened intently to the news as read by the church'sspeaker, Pastor's anniversary, tithes increased, prayers for the sick and shutin.
The speaker returned to his seat, as the choir started to sing "Wadein the Water,"
And the hall with its fine walls and intricately paintedglass is filled with an aura of praise which uplifts the souls of those listeningfrom the wreckage of their temporary stations and bids them look to theheavens.

My granny sits and claps as the preacher pulls himself upright tothe pulpit and offers his good morning,
She cheers as he begins to recite theword of God, the book of Luke, then Matthew,
And watches as tattered Biblesare flung open, and so fling off the draping of despair and hard times.
Sheraises her voice as the preacher, as skilled in words as some are in metals orclays,
Weaves his verbal tapestry, reaching into the mind of each onepresent,
Playing on their woes, and triumphs, their challenges, sins andmissteps,
And gives New Hope, the hope of life beyond the day-to-day.
Beyond having "N-----" written on your doorstep,
Beyond thesouthern Jim Crow mentalities,
Beyond a Depression, beyond world conflicts,
Beyond a struggle for basic rights, and beyond the slayings of the Movement'sarchitects,
Beyond a war which ravaged the jungles far away, and urbanjungles,
Beyond the retreat of the middle class, away from the cities,
Into a bubble called suburbia, beyond the deterioration of a dream,
Intoa nomadic search for lost culture which glorifies violence andignorance,
Beyond that, and beyond more, the powerful voice hadspoken.

My great grandmother still traverses the same path to the samechurch,
Although times and landscapes have changed,
Now she passes ghettoflats and crack houses,
Smog and cars carrying corporate whores to theirmiddle-class taste of apple pie poisoned

with the bitter realization oftheir own betrayal to their own people,
She steps as proudly, although at 90the weight of age slides smoothly down her back,
She approaches the portal asshe has done for 90 years and when she returns,
A Lazarus of sorts, preparedto face a new week of being black history,
I ask in a cynical tone of voice,"How do you survive, Granny?"
She looks into my eyes and there aftera moment, finding the sincerity she hoped for, answered,
"Leaning on theLord, child,"
And I nod, as if the answer were already known.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the January 2002 Teen Ink Poetry Contest.






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