Slavery's Bonds
Annie, Age 13, Northborough, MA

It came across my back
Again and again
The whip sliced through my skin
Leaving cursed scars
The sting was unbearable
A yell erupted in the silence
Was it mine?
I couldn’t run
I couldn’t hide
It held me in bonds-
Slavery’s bonds.

My ancestors were free
In their homeland,
They toiled at their own free will…
But here I am
Forced by pain
Driven by aching limbs
Laboring for false masters.
In the fields we are driven
Like herds of sheep
Or cows
From dawn to dusk
Until we can work no more
Until our hands crack and bleed
And our legs stiffen
Then we return to our cabins
Wearied, but a full day looms tomorrow
With that frame in mind,
We drift into sleep.

I once asked Ma,
‘Why do they hate us?’
She once replied,
‘The color of our skin…
It is different from theirs,
And they are afraid.’
‘But remember, darling,
That your skin and your appearance
Are nothing.
They’re nothing compared to
What is in your heart.’
‘Never let there insults,
Their torments and
Weapons of hate
Mislead you in the wrong direction.
Remember that,
And you will overcome
And be free.’

We sing songs around the fire
Of freedom
Of yearning
Of escape
And flight.
Of one day,
When the nation arises
And opens their eyes
To the truth
And all of our ancestors
Will be free
And break away…
Break away from
Their confining chains-
Slavery’s bonds.

So even as the whip comes down
And I scream
Even as the enforcers yell
And beat
And kill
Even in darkness
And hurt
There is hope in me.
There is hope in us all.

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