araminta ross descended from royalty,
her four sisters were sold down south before she was born
so when the white men came for a fifth time, her mother harriet said
“you are after my son; but the first man that comes into my house,
i will split his head open”
resistance seeps into the bloodline and speaks gospel into Minty Ross.
fresh child wouldn’t watch her tongue.
massa couldn’t beat her hard enough to forget how to spit the word no.
so when she left maryland for the first time,
the sun came like gold through the trees that september dawn.
john tubman’s wife renames herself junior;
the second coming of liberty or death,
women who knew it was either going on or dying,
the only two guarantees in this world, besides that
she is her mother’s daughter.
all of five feet, she stains civil war city crimson,
hailing from the DMV, the girl on the Swanee River,
of course she is the first US woman to execute a military operation.
& there, her spirit lives, a conductor & a war hero.
biting a bullet during brain surgery.
here on malcolm x boulevard, we use our sojourner truth 10s
truth on the front, frances dana gage on the back.
martin luther king 50’s: lincoln monument on the front,
fbi agents & hotel balcony on the back, dream 50% off.
harriet on the front, trail of tears in the back.
revolver not included, paradox printed on cotton spun green,
the other 2/5ths lost somewhere in egypt.
& america still thinks it owns her when
america does not deserve to have her face on its money.
years after freedom, ill and penniless, when harriet couldn’t afford groceries,
congress still refused to pay her for her military service.
you think we’re free yet?
you think we owe you something?
Mernine Ameris studied Public Administration at George Mason University. Her work has been published in Volition Magazine, Corridors Magazine, Hysterical Magazine and nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the Brain Mill Press. Language has been her greatest gift.