When the wind blows in from the North
I breathe in deeply
Close my eyes
And imagine
A fresh cool morning
When I go outside
And breathe in
Those same smells
In the North

Horses stamping their feet
Owners shouting at me to get out of hiding
But I refuse
I will let them find me themselves
If they ever do
Decide to climb up
To the very top
Of this leafy tree
My refuge
I am safe from them
They have finally given up
I am free
As I sleep
I dream
Of laying on the ship
Touching skin with strangers
And in pain
And when I wake
I remember my dream
And think
Although this journey
Is tiring and hard
It is better than that one
Everything is better than that one

When I think of Freedom
I think of doing what I want
On my own schedule
Nobody telling me what to do
Nobody making me walk an hour to the fields
Nobody whipping or burning me
Or worst of all possibly killing me
Nobody giving so little food
Enough that if I put all my small meals together
That single meal would be barely enough to make someone full
Nobody making me sleep on a pack of straw
With dirty rags for a blanket
Nobody giving me dirty looks because I work ten seconds
slower than usual
Or because I was one minute late to the fields
When I think of Freedom
I think of being treated
With respect
And kindness
And not being treated differently
Because my skin is a different color
Than the rest of them

A white slave owner
Has the power to hurt you
Yes, it is legal

The wind rustles leaves
As they guard me while I sleep
What a soothing sound

A wonderful word
Music to my ears
The definition being
No longer a slave in the South
Finally a citizen in the North
America is my home
I am proud of my home, my country
I deserve to be a citizen in the Union
Not a slave in the Confederates
Who are fighting for unfairness
Discrimination, Racism
And power

When I walk
I get bored
And my mind drifts back
To that fateful day in Africa
I was only nine years old
When the white men broke into my home
I was talking to a servant
About what I wanted for dinner
When they knocked down the door
Chained everyone in the house up
Brought us outside
Chained us to other people they had kidnapped
Forced us to walk hundreds of miles
Then put us on a cramped ship
That took us to slavery
Of which I am currently successfully escaping from
I wonder if
When I get to the North
They will let me have my former name back
Zareen Abimbola
Vibrant, beautiful, alive
A description of my personality
Or if they will have me keep my new name
Edna Cornblatt
That my slave owner chose
Because Edna is a common white woman’s name
And his last name is Cornblatt
But to me, the name is
Bland, Boring, Plain
I don’t have any of that in me
Unlike Zareen Abimbola,
Which jumps off the page at me
Edna Cornblatt stays
Flat against the blank paper
Like a white woman
Whose parents chose to give her that name

When I see a house
On the Underground Railroad
It is like knowing
That until tomorrow
The white men won’t find me
I look around, then knock on the door
Satchel in hand
Hoping whomever is inside will hear me
A woman opens the door
And I hurry inside
And collapse on the first chair I see
While she bustles around, gets me some tea
Then starts dinner
While I sip my tea
She invites me to sit by the fire-so I do
And it feels like heaven
Especially because soon
She has a whole roast turkey on the table
The Underground Railroad
Is a hidden path
That a slave takes
To get to the North
The only thing different
From other trails
Is that it has houses
With abolitionists
Who will help you and let you stay the night
Before you continue on your road to freedom

At the border
I see African Americans like me
But they are not working in fields
Don’t look tired, aren’t wearing rags
They are free to get their own job
Earn their own money, make their own living
As soon as I take two steps, I will be free

I am finally free

Being free
Is the most wonderful feeling in the world
I have already made some friends
Former slaves like me
Since I crossed the border last week
Out of Delaware
I have a job as a secretary for a publishing company
Who will look over my poems
In this journal
If they like them
They will give me a side job
Writing poems
And publish them in a newspaper
My own poems
Written by a slave
About what a slave thinks about
For all of Pennsylvania to see
May 19, 1853
Earlier this week, my husband was sold away from me at an
auction. But I kept true to our escape plan, and I write this in
an abandoned rabbit’s hole. My greatest dream is to become
a poet when I get to the North, as I taught myself English, and
then to read and write, so I will use this journal to make my
dream come true.

I am very scared.
I huddle, hidden, hungry.
How far to the North?
Every move counts
Can a miracle happen?
Always unpredictable
Please help-someone, anyone
Every night I pray
A journal toward freedom
by Cata Elvander