Black and White

fine line

I have a penchant for black skin.

Really, maintenance people of all types…

Spending so much time at my Grandmother’s home growing up

I took to hanging out in the company of “the help”

Which meant gardeners, cooks and housekeepers.

Sylvia took up a lot of space in the kitchen.

The smallish greasy room in the back-40 part of the house was my idea of heaven.

She, in her comforting enormity sat me down at the yellow striated formica table and cooked me up the best dang hamburger.

I loved Sylvia. And Bessie. Tom and others through the years..

I remember their soft, poufy blackness. So inviting to me. Safe. Warm. Comforting how their skin curled around me in a non-claustrophobic hug. A real hug. True. Unafraid.

My Grandmother rung a bell to announce readiness in her dining room to be served.

I hung my head. In shame.

These people I loved were reduced by a soul-sucking tinkle of a glass bell.

We all withdrew deep into our chests in order to brave the fucked-up-ness.

All I could do was lift my small head to them in a squeaky thank you as they, in their invisible cloak served me.

All I could do was look them directly in the eye so they’d feel known.

Tom, the gardener and the others travelled over an hour by bus each morning to arrive in time to tend the grounds.

I saw my Grandmother count more on him than my ineffectual grandfather.

The very skin of these fine friends meant safety to me.

They were IN their skin; honest, hard working and full of extra love for some rich folks pasty white lonely kid.

To my Grandmother’s credit she cared for their families, supported them financially and outside the dining room valued them almost as family.

I sensed something contained..lovingly held private..never indiscriminately shared about these fine black souls.

Now that I know better how to love myself some of these same qualities are mine.

I’ll never have the depth of their skin though…

But I can remember..

And let you know just how it was.

It was complicated.

But I must honor them.


One Response to “Black and White”

  1. Jenny on November 16th, 2015

    You do remember and bear witness and remember how hard it was for a small girl knowing something was amiss but powerless to change anything. And the great strength and love that have been forged in untold suffering . And you know that too.

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