Wednesday, June 4, 2014

St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore

St. Michaels.

Frederick Douglass.

I don't yet want to look to the details that I remember from Frederick Douglass' narrative. I know this is the place where he was sent to be broken as a young slave.

Driving in across Delaware, then the Eastern shore, almost midnight, alone on these drizzled, misty back highways.

I can feel the strangeness of the land. It is dark. I can feel this place where he was, without the sabotage of the present and daylight.

5 hours earlier, I was with Larry Johnson, my friend and former student. He brought up President Obama. I asked him how it felt, the election. In his even keel way, Larry indicated it was huge and followed with a short anecdote.

His Grandmother said that she finally felt like an American. He welled up and lost it. His grandmother's grandmother was a slave.

As I drove from Coop City in the Bronx, where I met up with Larry, down to the Eastern Shore, I felt it in me. That calm. I could feel my body clearing...the intensity of traveling into an unimaginable history. One that has remained in me since reading it over 20 years ago.

Tomorrow, I will sit with it, going to sites that may yet be unmarked...The farm where the young Frederick Douglass was to be broken, the place where he grew up, the place where he was born...hold in the memory of this extraordinary man. And for a short while, feel the land where he came to be.

I can't imagine what that means...those words. Broken.

Though Douglass survived and was not broken.