Helen Adam’s poem “Miss Laura”

Miss Laura

“Black, black, black, is the colour of my true love’s hair.”
– Traditional song

“Black is the colour of my true love’s skin.
White girl, black man, where is the sin?”

Sweet talk murmured by Miss Laura’s mouth.
Lynch fires howling up and down the South!

Up the avenue gentlemen ride.
Want Miss Laura for their golden bride.

Ladies so pretty don’t grow on trees.
Rich men, poor men, down on their knees.

Rich men, poor men, every man white.
Miss Laura, lovely as the morning light,

Who will you choose to take to your bed?
“The black boy standing at my horse’s head.”

Ancient avenues, and haunts of gloom.
Miss Laura’s riding with her darky groom,

Riding slowly under shrouds of moss
To the brimming river that the dusk blows across.

They walk their horses in the sundown glow,
Beside Savannah where it ripples slow.

Hear what she whispers in her muted voice,
And tell me truly if that man had a choice?
Oh! tell me truly if that man had a choice?

“Look, my Honey, on Savannah’s wave,
Still be flowing when we lie in the grave.

Lovers walking in the future’s light,
Will care no longer if they’re black or white.
Oh! care no longer if they’re black or white.

Love me Honey, where Savannah flows.
Love me naked. Throw away my clothes.
My body’s open, and I want you in.
Black is the colour of my true love’s skin.”

Early morning when the white men came,
Running in packs, and carrying flame.

She heard them running, then she shrieked, and said, “
Black boy forced me to his savage bed!
Forced Miss Laura to his jungle bed!”

They lit the faggots, and the flame licked high.
He cried “Miss Laura!” with his last loud cry.

For her was the last wild glance of his eyes.
’Ere the blare of his burning shook the sun from the skies!
Black man burning shook the sun from the skies!

Miss Laura’s talking, and she can’t keep still.
From her pretty lips the love words spill.

Talking, talking, with a tongue of fire
That must speak passion and can never tire.

Folk who wander by that river’s brink,
Just when the red sun’s aiming to sink,

Under the branches where the moss moves slow,
Hear Miss Laura speaking hoarse and low.

“Love me, Honey, where Savannah flows.
Love me naked. Throw away my clothes.

My body’s open, and I want you in.
Black, black, black, black is the colour
Of my true love’s skin!”

 


 

more Helen Adam poems at PEPC

from A Helen Adam Reader, ed. Kristin Prevallet
(Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 2007
Used with the permission of the Poetry Collection, University at Buffalo. With thanks to Kristin Prevallet and Michel Basknski.© Estate of Helen Adam, 2009.

Helen Adam at EPC
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