Cast Bronze, 2007
21" X 17" X 39"

The year was 1932. It wasn't long ago that she headed north, on these same tracks that she rode the train goin' to Chicago. Many peoples from the county, sittin' on their mules and drivin' their wagons did not know what caused her to walk to the land of cotton and lynchings, but I jus' knew that she was different now. You see, terrible things happened to her jus' before she lef' the Delta. In and around our county, native American girls and young black girls were vulnerable to rapings that occurred almost daily by white men.

This young gal by the name of Lucinda Burnside had a terrible time. The peoples she worked for was known for thowin' big parties that lasted the whole weekend. Well, Miss Sally Blair would always come to the black section of town and gather up all the girls and give 'em a li'l piece of money to hep out in servin' all these people, that came from both near and far. There was an ol' man named Uncle Smilin' Jack, and at these parties, they ursta pour whiskey 'roun' his feet and throw matches to make him dance as fast as he could. Then afterwards, they'd collect pennies and place dem in his big ol' hand that was cupped, lookin' like an ol' bird's nest held below his bowed head with a mouth full of smilin' brown teeth.

Yes, Lucinda was part of that carnival-like atmosphere, whether she wanted to be or not-- you see, she needed that li'l piece of money somethin' awful, fo' in between cottonpickin' seasons, the only thing black folks lived on was home gardens an' credit from the local store. Gettin' back to this party now, black peoples didn't want to be there, because it was an atmosphere that hung over them like a hot curtain on fire, and could drop down an' consume 'em anytime it wanted to. Although this was 1932, the feeling of them bein' slaves persisted and wrapped around them like a heavy overcoat-to the point of almos' smotherin' them. Some of the peoples that came to these parties was as crazy as all get out, an' they would get all likkered up an' talk to black folks and treat them anyway they felt like. The young girls was jus' a shadow carryin' things and doing what they were told, no matter what that would be. Well, one night Miz Blair asked a few of the girls to stay over-the young and pretty ones, mainly. As the evenin' wore on, an' the sounds of the white peoples mad laughter toned down to murmurs and strange cries coming from hidden corners and from unknown places within this den of darkness. The young girls jus' stood there, scared like baby goats bein' surrounded by wolves. Lucinda was the youngest of all of 'em, and the smallest. When it came time for her to be given an order, she would stand there shakin', as if bein' spoken to in another language. Later on, the young girls were separated and tol' they were going to be handmaidens to some of the wealthier male guests. Lucinda was no older than 13 or 14 years old, and as she walked into one of the strange-smelling chamber rooms, someone's arms circled her tightly from behind, the way she usta put her arms around magnolia trees and smell de blossoms. Only dis time, she was bein' hugged, and de smell was a terrible odor that seemed a mixture of turpentine, burnt rags, and that of animals giving birth. The experience of this unwanted situation frightened her something terrible. Her assailant was of such size and brutality that she could only submit to its predatory needs. Later that year, Lucinda swole up like an ol' chicken snake with a rooster inside his belly, and delivered a handsome chestnut-colored boychild. He was, without a doubt a child from that age-old played-out drama of rapist and victim. Like so many Negroes in small southern towns, Lucinda, too, headed north to better herself and to provide a decent living for her child and the grandmother that looked after him until she was able to come get him.

And now we see her, fulfilling her natural instincts of motherhood, heading back to Mississippi, walking along the old tracks that were no longer in service, jus' to save carfare. She returns to a red-earth land that bled blood when it rained, where one can hear the wailings of their ancestors when the wind blows through the pine forest of this evil yet beautiful land.