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An Old Song

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
USA - California 1999

Recently, a collection of my poetry entitled, Common Ancestry was published by Mille Grazie Press. The title of the poem and several others, including An Old Song, were written remembering my grandmother, Curruth Drummond Kincaid. Her picture as a young woman graces the cover of the book. All that I do- from poetry to politics- has its genesis in my grandmother’s life. She always spoke of the influences of her grandmother, Chestine Foster, and her aunt, Ada Foster. I was her firstborn grandchild and went to live with her in Marion, North Carolina, just before my 5th birthday in 1948. She died in 1997 at the age of 97. Here I have used her picture taken at age 94. The picture of me, circa age 45, was taken by my friend, Specs Powell.

This box is covered with purple star-studded paper which wrapped a book I received as a thank-you gift from a teacher and friend, Marianne Rossant. The book was her mother’s memoir of growing up in Egypt and in France, the birthplaces of her parents. My friend, Margaret Matson, instructed me in the art of paper maché. The poem is printed on a computer scanned version of the wrapping paper. The star on top of the box, part of a gift from my friend, Abigail Albrecht, symbolizes my namesake, Sojourner Truth, whose dying words were, “I’m going home like a shooting star”.

Thanks for the help to Rod Rolle, Margaret Matson, and Tom Long.

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

I have no new voice
it is the same old voice
the voice of my mother
for her daughter
captive of Kaleidoscopic mirrors
the voice of her mother crying
for her daughters
in the mill village
singing for the hill pople
dancing for nickels

Old as the voice of her
mother screaming for
daughters taller than
herself   tall as the
Carolina pines   taller
than her predators
tall enough to speak
above heads of
inferiors   old as
the voice of her mother
singing from the deep
recesses of her humming
heart   deep where
the memory began
to be played over
for the forgetting

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