Our love was sweet and tart like lemonade on a sun-scorched day or the sweat that runs down your lover's face. It was bittersweet, more bitter than sweet. But by the time you find this, you gonna get to the sweet, cause me and Joe done worked out all the bitter.
This is my story, mine and yours, my children of grace....
I'm writing these words so everybody can know that God be real. Spirit be real. Love be real.
I don't know how I come to do it. But I am. I ever learn to write or read. But here I be doing it. All I know is I got to do it fast, cause my life here ain't gonna be long. I gotta do what I'm sposed to. I guess this been the reason all along. I never knowed why a person has to go through so much pain, just to get to the comfort. But I reckon comfort only comes to those who suffer.
I better write now, fore this power leave me.
Cosina Brown, or Miss Cozy, as she was known throughout the literary community, relaxed herself into her favorite chair and smiled. "Hello, old friend," she said to the book, Children of Grace
, she held in her lap. Even though she loved books passionately--she sold them for a living--this book was special.
"Been a long time since I read you. Something's telling me to read you again, and you know I always listen to the 'some-things.'
"Sweet Honey got a song about that. It says listen more often to things than to beings, because in them we hear the ancestors' prayers."
Miss Cozy shifted herself in the overstuffed chair, and got more comfortable. Reading this book always brought on change. A major shift was coming, Miss Cozy could feel it, so she knew she had to get ready. As she began to reread Children of Grace
, the only known copy of a slave woman's journal, the words seemed to leap off the pages and connect with her thoughts. Somewhere, in the middle of reading, Miss Cozy could tell that she was not reading at all. She was asleep, but someone or something was reading the book to her.
I don't know when I was borned, but now I know why. I was put here to tell a story. A story of love. Cause love is powerful and can't nothing stop it. Not even the place I'm in can stop my love. They call it slavery. I call it death.
I was saying that I don't know where I was borned. Don't know my real people neither. Just the man who raise me. I ain't find out til I was on in my life that he wasn't my daddy.
We were sold to the same plantation on the same day. My blood mama was killed trying to run. Old man Hunn wasn't so old then. He was out hunting my mama and me. He wasn't a real catcher. Others caught slaves for money. He caught em for keeps.
Anyway, Hunn catch up with my mama and me, cause she need to stop and feed me.
Story go that he laid eyes on her and he just knowed that he had his best find ever.
But my mama wouldn't be caught easy. She was pure-blood African, and full of fire.
He catch her unawares, snatch me from her breast, and they say, he try to get that milk for hisself. Now I was way too young to remember, but that's the story I hear.
That there is a sickness, pure and simple. But anybody trying to keep folks like animals got to be sick.
My mama was caught by surprise, but she had one for him, too.
In her pocket she have a sharp piece of something that she make and slice him right cross his eyes.
Old man Hunn didn't have to think about what he was gonna do.
He hold up his gun and shoot her dead in the face.
Folks say she didn't die right away, but sometimes folks say things to make you feel a bit better after having to hear a bunch of pain. Wasn't nothing bout that story that made me feel any better. Anyway, that's about all I know bout my real mama. Sometimes I think I can still taste that sweet milk.
Excerpted from Redemption Song by Bertice Berry. . Excerpted by permission of One World/Ballantine, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.