From the Lost Notebook of Mary Day Brown
Springfield, Mass., Hastings Street. Feb. 1, 1848
On the visit of Mr. Frederick Douglass to our home.
It is late, very late & I sit by the last of the fire.
Mr. Douglass has visited us tonight. He sleeps
in the loft upstairs.
When he stood in our narrow doorway, he looked
to be filled with light, it shone off his shoulders
behind his head, through his fingers. Then
he entered. At first I thought him to be made
of cliffs—his cheekbones, his jaw, his thick arms. His
shirt so white, so very white, against the rock of his face.
Then there was his voice. How it rumbled, a deep roll
of sound that caught me in my chest. Not only his
voice, but his words.
What he knew.
The girls served him beans, corn bread
& a bit of the last of the lamb.
I stood back, near the stove, in case there was need.
I watched him. His large hand moved in circles along our table,
as if he would polish the raw, unvarnished wood, would
make it gleam, as he seemed to gleam. I felt, I suppose, pulled
by that hand, its back & forth motion
as he & John Brown spoke, argued, leaned to each
other—my husband full of fury and action;
his words. What he knew.
Veronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence, winner of the New Mexico Book Award, and A Bell Buried Deep, co winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, set to be re-issued by Tupelo Press. She is the co editor of the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, and Poetry Editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her husband, David Perez.