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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Skin Bridges"
This is the freebie for the February [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] nsfwords and [personal profile] freshbakedlady.  It also fills the "Carnation (general) - fascination" square in my 2-1-21 "The Language of Flowers" card for the Valentines Bingo fest.

"Skin Bridges"

Back in slavery days,
some people found
their way to freedom
over skin bridges.

For all the black people
who suddenly hated
the white lines on them,
there were others who
found rays of hope.

"I'm a conductor.
Who's comin' with me?"

"Thee does not have
to come in by the back door."

"Welcome to Canada.
You're free now."

Some even had
quilt patterns marked
on their bodies to show
where they could find
love, friendship, support.

For those who bore
words on their wrists
instead of adinkra symbols
or other pictograms, there
were a few slaves who knew
how to read and could
translate the writing.

Among white people,
the abrupt appearance of
African imagery could be
devastating -- or enlightening.

Blacks and whites became
fascinated with each other.

The more they mingled,
the more soulbonds occurred
across the lines of race and culture.

It eroded support for slavery
by giving vivid proof that
Africans were people too,
human enough to become
the soulmates of white people.

So the peculiar institution fell,
and America moved on.

The blacks and the whites
found soulmates here and there,
written in words or images.

In time, people began
to forget how it started,
how the letters and symbols
had helped slaves escape
and slaveowners become
abolitionists instead.

Was it history or myth?

Hard to tell, with the people
and their soulmarks gone
into the ground long ago.

But the stories survived,
oral tradition preserving
what artifacts could not,
family history passed down
about how their ancestors
had found each other.

Even now, soulmarks
dance from land to land,
holding hands without touching.

* * *


Adinkra symbols appear in West Africa. See some examples.

See a timeline of the Atlantic slave trade from our dimension. This timeline shows slavery in America. Both eroded faster in eloquent-Earth due to soulmarks.

Here we have the oral history about the quilt code in the Underground Railroad. A similar dispute arose over soulmarks due to lack of hard evidence surviving over time.

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