Sleeping with God: “Minnie” – Danielle East

I remained too much inside my head; I began to lose my mind. –Edgar Allen Poe


The Antebellum



“Would you marry me,” I begged him to say yes. I spoke the request I had been wanting for so long.

The more the world wanted us apart, the more we gravitated towards each other. The world hates what cannot be comprehended. Beasts and human? An abomination, a sin. The Lord clenched his chest and fell to his knees at the sight of such an un-Godly social experiment. Yet it was not our fault that we fell in love. Like Adam and Eve, we knew right from wrong, but it was temptation that brought us upon one another. It was always temptation that made the most bias and greatest fall and lose strength.

I didn’t care if it was morally wrong to fall for whomever I loved. With all the wrong gone on in the world, how could true love fall in this category? It was only hypocrites, self-loathing hypocrites that defiled everything that was good in the world. Oh how I hate people like that. They go around living their lives with their heads held high, nose at an angle and spiting on everyone who they think is beneath them. It’s just child’s play for them to detest me. I know God hates ugly, but you don’t even have to dig deep in my heart to know I have no love for them.

“Don’t you love me?”

Anyone might think I just hate white folks, except my lover, because they are white and the world is hateful, but I don’t too much like black folks either. None of us will ever leave slavery if we don’t all band together. You don’t need to be self-educated to know right from wrong. Right and wrong ain’t something them book with them English words in it can teach you. Yet, some even know right and wrong, but can’t live by it.

Despite my hatred for the world, there was only one true person that held my heart. My Clarence dear. So loyal to me he is. Greater than any man in the South. I can hardly remember a time when I did not cling to my lover. He always gave me that feeling of hope. Something in him always told me, even though we were in the midst of a troubling time, there was still a beating heart in the world.

But don’t none of them Negroes like me since I have been with Clarence. To what I suspect, it may be jealousy at the least. I believe many of them desire to be with him or if they have to, be raped by him, just something to make them cry at night and wish even more they were dead. Even if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to hold a nice conversation with one of them. My whole race card had expired. None of them merely talked to me. I am a black sheep, exiled by my own kind. No one to relate to, no one to braid my hair and discuss whatever the hell with.

“Would you marry me if I was white?”

I burst out with a different approach to make the question more suiting. Clarence I knew loved him. Although he was taller than average, blond-headed and blue-eyed, he had my heart. I know, slave masters kept wenches all the time, but our relationship was different. I was more than just a bed mate. He wasn’t a racist bigot. How unusual and unbelievable it was, it had been too long under his protection to know him in any other way.

To be a person born into the slave trade is as like being conceived at the gates of Hell. My burnt crisp skin that which was cooked by the devil’s roasting pan. The way he fiddled at my hair with his pitchfork to conduct a nappy mess on my head. And the way he placed me in the world at such an un-Godly time.

Being black in America when a system constantly works against you is a curse. My appearance was not a choice but; white folks treat us as though we willingly picked to jump into this lake of fire. Unfortunately, my outward appearance will not change in the years to come. Nor will the way I and all the other Negroes are treated because of it. It’s preposterous that at this time a white man can steal a horse and be hung because of it but kill a black person and live.

But there was no need for me to complain. Unlike my other equals that produced their only means of surviving in the field, I did not work. My master, he did not pay attention to if I got the work done or not. An unusual black woman I was, but I did help out in the kitchen. My hands had not touched a crop since I was eight years old. This is when I took to the kitchen like my mother and those mothers before her.

This is also when I took a liking the Master Clarence; who I only called Clarence. And when he would call, “Minnie, Minnie… You stay out that field. They don’t need you. Too pretty to crop, to pretty to pick.” So I say he took a liking to me too. Harmless or not, his heart was set on me. That’s why I’m set apart from the rest of the Negroes.

To say I was in love with Clarence was just an understatement. What would I do without him, and him without me as his companion? Being with my love Clarence was like sleeping with God.

“Answer me!”

His silence left me with the question of whether he loved me at a different level than he had before. Laying in the lush that be in his master quarters was where I stayed. The rest of the Negroes were outside in the slave quarters. This is where they stayed at night but, many of them did not remain in the homes. But none of them were stupid enough to run away and not come back. Just recently, many that choose to roam the land at night did not come back.

“I…,” he said.

Lying next to Clarence was like being closer God. His whole physique and personality is the opposite of me. The way his hair flows from his scalp to create the cows lick at the front of his forehead. I always wondered why the white man’s hair came out all straight like grass and got real oiled up. And the fact that my hair was dry like all the other Negroes. I prayed for hair like his.

His fair skin that contained little patches of freckles on his face and arms. His jaw was cut and structured like the no one other. His high cheek bones looked like they begged for me to rub my lips upon them. And I enjoyed them, even though sometimes all I could taste was sweat.

His height is what set him apart from the other white men I Knew in Forees County. His height, counted from the scratches marked beside the barn in the field were higher than any man on the plantation. I had never actually measured him but by the height of other men I had seen, I guessed her was seven feet. His bulky body and the awkward way he walked was much different than those of the Negroes. The cotton picker men smelled of hard work and hard days gone by. I preferred Clarence’s aroma to theirs.

He completes me. Whether be a good or a bad thing. His love matters much more.

“How would they react, “Clarence asked as he pushed his hand into my grasp. His eyes my caught my glance and I could see the sparkle in his light brown eyes. “When the time comes and we can. Don’t over think things. Good things come to those who wait Minnie.”

The sound of his voice alone was comforting…But his answer did not relive the empty hole in my heart. I rolled over in bed. Facing away from Clarence. Screeching voices, horrible moans, scratching at the roof of the home and my beating heart were the sounds that filled my desperate soul. I couldn’t stand the sounds, especially that out my heart, but I had too. I starred at the blurry wall. I could not let him see me cry myself to sleep.



3 thoughts on “Sleeping with God: “Minnie” – Danielle East

  1. This is wonderful. It took me a little while to catch on to the period and the gravity of the situation, but that’s likely more my fault than yours. Oh, and thank you so much for writing something other than pure poetry. I love seeing variety here especially when it’s well written.

    Liked by 1 person

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