Poppa was a gentleman in a time
when being a rolling stone was
more common. Country doctor he,
one generation post slavery,
born a slave and emancipated
by ol’ Massa Lincoln
and a fortuitous melanin count

Poppa was son of farmer
French, African heritage
a generation from Gambian shores
and French plantations
miles and shades from Huguenot riches
Oldest male, his birthright
was fortune, to which I am heir
and money , to which I am not

Poppa impudently escaped 18th Century
Alabama fields, bouncing on Georgia roads
in a 1920 Ford
scaring the horses who had never seen
a white-skinned Negro drive
and Poppa would ditch the car
to leave the horses in peace

And Grandma, child of ten,
Leo, as am I, would take the wheel
and drive Poppa safely hither
where he could exchange good health
for chickens and prime cut bacon

And in the telling of his story
Grandma – at 93 – radiant with pride
not at Poppa’s survival of African
Holocaust or French heritage
or even 18th Century medical degree
but simply, because her Poppa
was a gentle man
who would drive into ditches
to save a horse some stress


  1. Hanno Phenn says:

    What a piece of writing so gentle and it has a little glimpse of French in it .The way it is told let it just feel that way.

  2. Very nicely written, and an interesting story.

    1. Thank you very much.

  3. Lynne Ayers says:

    What a delightful way of passing along family stories and history.

  4. EagleAye says:

    Sounds like Poppa was an awesome man. A wonderful read.

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