Steal Away

Sing in a whispuh
steal away
don’t let ‘im hear yuh
when yuh pray
come in de circle
bend right ovuh
drop yuh sorrow
into de watuh*
When yuh rage unleash
and yuh feel yuh mus’ shout
don’t let ‘im hear yuh
cover yuh mout’
breathe it into de watuh
let de heat in yuh brain
rise up like de mist
and soothe like de rain
speak it low in de watuh
let de Spirit hear
tell ‘im yuh pray
dat deliverance near.
Sing in a whispuh
steal away
don’t let ‘im hear yuh,
he kill yuh next day.

 *During their secret meetings, the slaves practiced the habit of speaking over a pot of water so as not to be overheard by the slave masters.

 

from When Ground Doves Fly (Ian Randle Publishers, 2003), © Esther Phillips 2003, used by permission of the author.

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