De Footwarmin' Chile

Cast Bronze, 2007
26" x 13" x 22"

Lawd, my Jesus, here I goes agin', gots to get up from dis ol' rickety chair an' serve ole Miss Dolly Mae her mint julep. I keeps tellin' her der ain't no mint an' der ain't no whiskey, an' de sugah's all gone, too. You see, dem Yankee soljas jus' came an' took everthin'. So all I gives her now is some molasses water an' a li'l bit o' rubbin' alcohol. She cain't tell the diff'rence nohow. I sez to her in my nice voice, "Miz Dolly, here's yo' mint julep!!" Yessuh, I be's jus' as nice to her as I can, even though I knows we s'posed to be free now. Yeah, dat's right. Mr. Lincoln sez so. But ain't nobody tole us 'bout no freedom. We still here takin' care o' dese white folks, whether they dead or crazy, it don't matter. Her menfolks went off long ago to fight the Yanks up in Bicksburg, an' we ain't seen hide nor hair o' dem since. I heared dey was kilt, and dey bodies lef' floatin' face down in de river.

Ole Miz Dolly Mae she jus' stay in bed now, don't say nothin', don' try to stir 'roun' or do nothin' fer herself. We be de only ones here, now to take care o' her. I washes all de clothes and tries to clean her up, and dat li'l footwarmin' chile down dere is getting' too big to wrap hisself aroun' her feets to keep 'em warm. I t'ink he's actin' a li'l to spry to be doin' dat, specially when ole massa ain't here to keep a eye on 'im.

Umph, umph, umph. Now I gots to set her up, put dis white powder on her face an' red paint on her cheeks an' lips, jus' like ole massa tole me. He say she his li'l ole baby doll, an' want her to look sweet fer him when he get back from de war. I 'spect its time for me to leave dis hyar place, wit she not movin' or sayin' nothin', an' I know de footwarmin' chile's gonna run off any time now. Yeah, dat's right, I 'spect its time fer me to quit this here ole slavin' work an' get me a life o' my own somewhere way up Nawth where I can be free.