by Veronica Golos
From The Lost Notebook, Mary Day Brown_________________
Elba, New York, late evening, December 6, 1859.
five days after the hanging of my husband John Brown
This morning they began to arrive. First
a small wagon, a man, his young son
beside him. Then an entire
family, three children, father
Even some we had
helped on to Canada. I stood
in my doorway, as the tract around the house
filled with horses, wagons, those who
had walked. Mr. Epps was nearby,
Mr. Riddick, silent as always.
I will not weep.
All day, the crowd grew, many wearing black armbands,
mostly the negroes, & there were
hundreds—& a number
of whites as well. There was little talk. Whispers
as someone moved to make room.
Dusk settled upon us; campfires flared—
huge stars, the ground
a hard sky. Somewhere, someone
began to sing:
My Lord what a Morning
My Lord what a Morning
Oh My Lord, what a Morning
When the stars begin to fall.
People stood, swaying, firelight flickering.
It was a song well known,
their voices came together, a keening sound.
A sole harmonica,
far back in the crowd. I could hear horses snorting,
the rustle of animals in the woods.
The words, no, the feeling inside the words, for him,
made me tremble. I had to sit. His chair,
where he liked to rest
as the sun went down.
From The Lost Letters, John Brown to Mary Day Brown
Charlestown Prison, Jefferson County, Virginia,
December 1, 1859.
Mrs. Frances Harper has agreed to deliver this letter.
I trust her completely, as do you. She will help, I believe, in the days
to come. Trust, also, in the Lord.
I say trust in the Lord & yet I send this missive
full of questions. What have I left
undone, unsaid? I do not doubt the Lord, but
we tried to rally great numbers, & we did fail. Have I
sacrificed my sons as Abraham might have done? Have I
laid down others upon an altar? Did I
judge wrongly? That slavery will come to its end
through fire, that I do not doubt. It is my own life
that I wonder, have I done it right?
I know the Lord is righteous, & the passion the enslaved
bring to Bible removes any doubt – yet, Mary, the suffering.
We lived together at Kennedy’s farm, negro and white,
your daughters too. All were upright & were branded with friendship,
not iron. Can not the world be as this? Together & in dignity?
All fallen as we are?
Your husband, John Brown
.ghost code. before.
sand is flat
and the wet
the sea slurs
into the hair of tides
I am still damp
when I wake from before
deep in this
I hear the low bells
charge the air
of ringing about my head
O I remember once I loved a bound man
under the floorboards
and the small
of his loving
beneath the tulips
I owned nothing
not myself only
dripping down my throat
for me to taste
From The Lost Notebook, Mary Day Brown
Elba, New York, May, 1855.
It is dark & I write by a thin light.
The children still sleep.
John Brown away to Kansas with his sons.
I am gaining something here. Hard
work does not fray me; I am a dry
cord, wood piled & ready to be burned.
Yesterday, two Abolition Ladies visited
to bring us funds. They lifted their skirts
above the mud.
I was planting with my negro neighbors, Mr. Epps & Mr.
Riddick. We’d already shorn their sheep. We were heavy
“Oh, I see,” Mrs. Wrightworth said. “You
have no men folk here.”
I write this, my anger a blue flame.
My neighbors turned—walked
the steep hill toward their farms; the maples
were shaking in the light.
Here, in Elba, finally, it is spring.
Outside is all loveliness—the lilacs are just about to
through. I am so ashamed.
can cut a wound & worse, they do
not know what they do.
About Writing for Peace Adviser Veronica Golos
Veronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence, winner of the New Mexico Book Award, poems from which are translated into Arabic by poet Nizar Sartawi, and A Bell Buried Deep, co-winner of the 16th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press), to be re-issued by Tupelo Press. Her most recent poetry book is Rootwork: The Lost Writings of John Brown & Mary Day Brown, (3: A Taos Press, 2015). Golos is the Poetry Editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (Harvard Divinity School), and co-editor of the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. She lives in Taos, NM, with her husband, David Pérez. Learn more about Veronica’s work here. ROOTWORK is available for purchase through 3 Taos Press.
Writing Through Sorrow
By Victoria Hanley
For this writing exercise, I encourage you to remember and record a sorrow that you have lived through. When and where was it? Who was there, and what happened? Write it all out, and let your emotions come through, as if your words are tears on the page. Keep writing, and let it all pour out of you, even if it feels as if your tears are an ocean. Write, write until your heart begins to feel something new, until you have some bit of freedom from this sorrow.
Meet Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace Adviser
Victoria Hanley’s novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, and Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins.
Learn more about Victoria’s books, read her blog, download a free chapter of Wild Ink, and watch Victoria in action at www.victoriahanley.com.
Writing for Peace News
Activism Update From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:
Read Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese latest article on TPP Fast Track here.
Follow the latest Popular Resistance developments here.
DoveTales “Nature” Edition Update
To all those who have ordered books for yourself, family, and friends, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Book sales go a long way toward the substantial costs of funding our mission.
DoveTales are available through our website here.
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