Ancestors by Ebony Sowells

As I step into the morning, I breathe in, pulling every ounce of oxygen circulating from within. With a deep inhalation, I allow my belly, then lungs, then head, to fill with the gift, often polluted and defiled, through the makings of man. I raise my hands to the sky, and I greet the sun, thankful for all of its consistency, always rising and always setting, never disappointing, faithful to its bounty. I am thankful for things that are, things that are seen, not through vision, but through awakening. The voices, once whispers whistling small illegible advisories, are now blaring loudly like trumpets, declaring that I take heed to their demands, of which summon me to the battlefield. Fight.


“Let us guide you,” they declare gently, so to ease the fears that constantly persuade me of next time, next day, next year, next never.

A fire is so delicately lit, allowing the fumes of persistence to rise and fill my gut, flooding my beating heart, a prisoner of my chest; captive to years of discourse and May-be’s.

Maybe if…

Maybe when…

Maybe next time…

May be not the answer…

Let us guide you”, they call, freeing my soul from the vessel that carries my fears and traps in my pain. A freedom that forces flight, of all the weight collected from centuries of bodies buried along with hopes of “may our legacy be…free?”

And when I blink my eyes, I am confronted with the scarlet grounds upon which once walked, and shouted, and sang, and danced, those that have come before me; all with hands stretched to the sky, embracing the sun, of which could be deemed the sole entity to rely upon faithfully.

“Let us guide you”, they insist, and the images of those before me flash like lightening.

I am struck. Anger added to the already kindling blaze, igniting the beast. Metamorphosis, a trick of my people, allowing for fluid navigation, and evolution through rebirth, reform, resistance.

I remember them.

All of them.

Slaughtered by the night. Skin ripped and shredded. All hopes and dreams like ashes, sprinkled in the dust, leaving few traces of the melanin that once graced the motherland, and gave birth to all that is, and can ever hope to be. The night, that once provided shelter from the beating of the sun, presents a conundrum of reconciliation with centennials of esteem, lacerated by greed, bondage secured by words carved by ink into dismembered life.

“let us guide you” they declare, joining my feet with the pavement, allowing both to dance, and familiarize one with the other, a ritual that is welcoming and akin to freedom.

In this moment I am reminded that the ancestors are ordering my steps. And I plead for confirmation, beseeching their presence in a moment where I am overwhelmed by wizardry, beholding spells casted in the name of faith.

I am overtaken. For bearing witness to the bodies of my brothers and sisters, seduced through sorcery and promise of a harvest that never yields fruit ripe enough for genuine satiation. I implore all traces of those familiar whispers, requesting only vision and clarity.

I am burdened by these screams, and repelled by jerky movements performing rituals of exaltation, the source of which can only be met with incredulity.

And in a moment of hopelessness I am overcome, cloaked in the spirits of my ancestors, moving through my toes, zigzagging the river to my chest.

Their voices are heard through my brothers, and felt through the embraces of my sisters. Their presence is felt in their shelter, driving me through overgrown fields, navigating through, around, and against adverse forces. And when I am surrounded, confronted with my enemy, they envelop me, shielding me from their spears, lifting me up and carrying me on.

“Let us guide you” they roar, and I surrender as they swaddle me in courage, drenching me in the strength to slay lions, charm snakes, and conquer whole armies.

And through the guidance of my ancestors, I am again in the pursuit of what lies in the land of the free.

Written by Ebony Sowells © 2016

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