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Passing From History

A deeply personal reflection on what it means to live one life while connected to one so vastly different. When the story of the land intertwines so inherently with your own, that you are no longer from it...but of it.


Written over a year ago, a homage of sorts to my family, our history, and the land that continues on.



Surrounded by suits, collars, and college degrees

Blending in, mingling, within the ranks

Of a class a lifetime away

From the dreams

And prayers

Uttered

From

An


Old

Dirt road

In Echols County,

Georgia, the lone place

My soul breathes free, unshackled

By steel towers and nature that exists

Solely in pre-planned, cultivated boxes and lots


Ruts and washed-out roads

Announce my arrival

And as if on cue,

My speech grows slower

And an accent, carefully crafted

Over years to remove any trace

Of the depths of my history,

Reemerges


Three steps up, or was it five

To the clapboard farmhouse porch

Two chimneys, left and right both

Flank one wide hallway


Numbers to remember

What time will not

Simple people never make

History books

But they made me


Great-grandparents

No, farther back still

Toil and sacrifice

With faith and hope

In tomorrow

And its weather


Bulldozers did their sworn duty

And what had sheltered generations

Was torn up and carried away

And is now no more

A resting place

Without a burial

Or headstone


Nature reclaimed the rest

Sheds, hog pens, and the like

The trees stand sentry

O’er a missing piece

Pecan tears drop

Never to be gathered

Anymore


Across the way

On the same

Dirt road


Is where my Granny lived

She was called home too

No bulldozers

But a truck

Hauled her place away

Leaving more trees

Weeping Spanish moss

Bent o’er

An emptiness


Surrounded by acres

And acres

Of sprouting life

In rows aplenty


Never once was she bothered

By shades of brown

In a Yankee no less

Who married her first

Grandchild

Me


How she loved

Her grandbabies

And great-grandbabies so.


And now she’s gone

I have more questions to ask

From an unsuspecting mouth swab


Would she have known?

Were there whispers?

Would she have been surprised?

Or better to not have known

For safety in her era

And the eras before her


Passing

Passing until

Passing is forgotten


One drop


I walk the same dirt road

Where my first steps

Were taken


Tying me to the past

And allowing me a future

Free of poverty

Free of farming’s labor

Freedom


Back to meetings with tailored suits

And phones that never quiet

But I’d rather be

In jeans and a t-shirt

Wondering if one day

The trees will grieve for me


On

An old

Dirt road in

Echols County, Georgia

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4 Comments


Nikki Hamby
Nikki Hamby
Oct 30, 2023

Beautifully written!! ❤️

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Holly Bills
Holly Bills
Oct 30, 2023
Replying to

Thank you. ❤️

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This is beautiful and it made me cry. So many memories!

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Holly Bills
Holly Bills
Oct 29, 2023
Replying to

This piece holds a special place in my heart, which was why it was difficult to make the decision to share it here. Hoping the tears held some wistfulness amidst some of the sadness.

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