Ode for the Confederate Living
"Both my masters went in grey suits,
and I loved the Yankee blue;
But I thought that I could sorrow
for the losing of them too;
But I could not, for I did not
know the half of what I saw,
Until they enlisted colored soldiers
and my Elias went to war."
Oral history from an ex-enslaved woman in Paul LaurenceDunbar's
"When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers"
You were not dead any of those days
you were alive; now, alive you
want to pretend to be. For shame.
For shame, your face distorts with cow's milk,
your words inked with lamb's blood, your hair
gray as Tate's hound bitch in the cellar,
gay as seeds planted in deltas and hills
and valleys of green insanity. For shame,
your labor stretches your neck, your legal nails
scratch for an unsuffered crucifixion. For shame,
your losses retreat into your raving bones,
into your guilt unseen, your truth sequestered
in the gentle riot of the facts you breathe.