NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 82

By COLLEEN McELROY BADLANDS 1. the story goes soon as Perry Lee and Jackson settled Anna Belle and her family on a spit of a farm in Illinois they set out to look for their sister Dora Emma they followed the underground route leading them due west and steered clear of towns where faces held the pallor of hunger that marked the southern states towns where you move around and turn around and jump just so while carpet baggers carried a gun in one pocket and the law in the other ready to shoot or shackle what they called runaway negras the posters were everywhere 2. 80 word came their ma’am was living with her folks out there on the plains a map fitting Jackson’s need to head for the badlands soon as he could Jackson rode easy at night using stars to navigate the way the old folks did when they escaped Perry Lee took the reins of the buckboard brought along to ease the travel for their ma’am and their baby sister Dora Emma not old enough to gentle a horse at night when the moon’s borrowed light tricked both horse and man or by day when the prairie sun bleached the land to sand and tumbleweed ten hands high spooked the horses tilting the weight of the buckboard until Jackson tied bags of loose dirt to opposite rails