Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

And they thought we were
talking about heaven.
After all, we had not studied
the masters' poesy, we knew
nothing about central metaphors,
conceits, literary vehicles.
Chariots carrying us home
on the underground railroad.
No, we were picking cotton
or tobacco or peaches and glorifying
tragedy with our voices.
We were weeping bitter, large tears.


From THE GOSPEL OF BARBECUE (Kent State University Press, 2000)

 

Poems by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

An Old Lady Told Me

Unidentified Female Student, Former Slave
(Talladega College, circa 1885)