“Clara’s Air” a poem by Arletta Dawdy–Part I

Arletta Dawdy came up to Lake County from Santa Rosa to hear me read for the Land Trust event, and felt inspired when she heard “Triptych: Jeweled Bones.” When she went home, she sat down before bed and dashed off the story of Clara’s Air.

“I had almost nothing to do with what came about when that little slave girl stole into my room late that night and insisted that I tell her story. It was intense, rare and charmed,” says Arletta.

When writers connect and help each other continue their work, it’s one of the best things in life for me. I’m happy to present her poem in three parts on Riehlife. –JGR


Old Mom-Mom told her
“It’s a track without a train,
a railroad running north
and, sometimes, underground.”

In the dead of night,
with more stealth than wealth,
they slipped onto the barque
of a Louisiana swamp.

Three dark panthers melding into
the shadows’ thin cover,
where a white man
at the helm did hover.

Fear and quiet made the slither
Of pole on green water
Seem to shout
upon the wild river.

Near to dawn, they put in at land,
there to await,
the next helping hand.

In a slimey cave they rested,
In Mom-Mom’s lap
Clara’s head softly nested.

(story continued tomorrow and the next day in Parts II & III)

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One Comment

  1. It’s a lovely poem and makes me think that Arletta, you ought to consider a collection of poems like these that capture an era and a people and a journey so well. Individual poems may be difficult to get published but I wonder if collections might not have a better chance? This one was finely crafted.

    Jane Kirkpatrick, http://www.jkbooks.com

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