Before General, before Moses or Harriet, she was
called Minty. Araminta: a name of two roots.
Arabella “yields to prayer”; Aminta “defends.”
And, O, where ends the might of that arm?
Perhaps her mama, Rit, felt the squeeze of Minty’s fist.
Did she know then her child would wander
from the farm? That she would peer into the marsh
and find the face of God, be blinded one day
in the Philadelphia sun? She arrived
in the new world, new city, crated in pine, a burlap
sack unfurled on her body, wrapped tight under turnip
and leek—coffined, confined, taking each squeak
of the wheel as a sign, each noise she heard as a dog
or a man. Trying to mask her human breath,
the stench of sweat on her human skin. She knew
as a girl: those sold South will march there
in coffles, drag chain for miles. Soph and Linah,
Mariah, her sisters, gone. A horizon both
endless and disappearing. Forever out of sight
and hearing and her very capable hands. So, she sang
her plans to “Master” as she passed him: Goodbye,
I’ll meet you in the kingdom. And she bowed as if
in deference, as if going about work, and, missing
her reference, he gave a grimace, a smirk. He thought
her faithful, but dim, off-keeled—just good enough
for the work of his field. He did not know her meaning,
her will, her fist, her fox, her game, her would-not-
yield, her God, her faith, her uppity, her name.
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