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Granddaddy’s Secret


This poem is dedicated to the memory of Alex Haley's grandmother Queen, from the book that bears her name. It is also dedicated to Vyry from Margaret Walker's book Jubilee. Both women were the result of the plantation owners forcing themselves on their mothers. My husband asked me to write a poem for Black History and this is one of several.I tried to imagine what these women went through.

Grandaddy’s Secret

Granddaddy was a wealthy landowner

He was strong and proud and brave

His property stretched for miles

He owned several plantations and many slaves

Respected in the community

A church elder and state senator

Grandmother his wife was so beautiful

One daughter and three sons for him she bore

But Grandpapa had a secret

I knew it very well

I promised myself I would keep it

I said that I would never tell

Late in the stillness of the night

While his household was still sleeping

Down to the slave quarters

My grandfather went a creeping

I heard him tiptoe past my door

And followed him outside

As he went into the ramshackle cabin

I found myself a place to hide

Just before Easter, the slaves began whispering

And grandmama seemed very sad

I wondered what was going on

To make her feel so bad

I finally got my answer

On a cold and frosty Christmas morn

There was a lot of excitement

About a slave baby who had just been born

I saw my grandma run from the cabin

She was trembling as she was weeping

Peeping through a crack, I saw black women

Looking at a white baby boy who was sleeping

Imagine my shock when I realized the truth

This slave child looked more like my granddaddy

Than my father his sister his brothers or me

Or anyone else in our entire family

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston


Eiddwen from Wales on February 23, 2020:

Written with depth and in such simplicity. A great poem and I look forward to so many more by you.

Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on February 05, 2020:

Thank you so much ch for reading

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on February 05, 2020:


I'm sure this happened quite often.

Your poem tells the story completely putting each vision in my mind.

Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on February 05, 2020:

Thank you for your encouraging words Lorna.

Lorna Lamon on February 05, 2020:

This brought back memories of a movie I watched called "Twelve Years a Slave". Such suffering. Another powerful and very realistic poem Cheryl and an interesting take from the point of view of one of his children. You are a talented poet.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 05, 2020:

As with your slave girl poem, this is powerful and has its strength in the 'matter-of-fact' way you have written it. It's well-crafted and you draw us in to the scene by telling the story through another's eyes.


OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on February 05, 2020:

Uhm. Mixed memory.

Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on February 04, 2020:

Good poem.

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