Blue Boat

Gullah Geechee Queen

D.A. Verwers

-for Queen Quet
 

I met the Gullah Geechee Queen
      After the vernal equinox
      When azaleas blew
      Their kisses of color
      Across green Carolinas
      When icy air
      Still lingered in the morn
      The chieftess came
And me without a gift.
 
I heard the Gullah Geechee Queen
      A delivered warning
      A foreboding
      “Grant Gullah Geechee
      Their dignity, their expertise
      Abscond the mockery
      Of feigned anointing
      Understanding awaits.”
And I saw the wrongs in daylight. 
 
I gazed upon the Gullah Geechee Queen
      Sweetgrass grace
      Fluid, free she danced
      Haunted, restored she danced
      A freedom I’ll never know
      Pulsed in her veins
      It swayed
      She swayed
 With my ankles shackled, I have no people.
 
I heeded the Gullah Geechee Queen
      She spoke in tongues
      Sounds, foreign and familiar
      Waves, salty and true
      Errors of history
      Cultural calamity
      Rising water
      An acid sea
And felt worldly pain.

I hummed with the Gullah Geechee Queen
      Somber elders
      Royal ministers
      Drumming filled the air
      An ancient rhythm
      Voices rose
      A song
      Their song
I sang off key.
 
I paid my homage to the Gullah Geechee Queen
      An angel oak
      A regal frame
      Robed in purple
      Like Spanish moss
      Uncurled to display
      Above her brow
      A seashell crown
I breathed. I hoped. 

Danielle Verwers was born in Ft. Riley, Kansas, but has lived all over the country.  She now calls Columbia, SC home where she lives with her husband and five children. When she is not writing or reading, she is urban hiking, exploring small towns, or catching up with friends.