Six million ravens bent
and blackened the sky’s borders
reshaping the landscape as they went
bending their wings to a new world order,
the weight of which no one could measure.
They were choking on a poisonous air
disguised as the law of the land.
Whenever they’d rise up from there,
Jim Crow would beat them down again.
Lesson learned; the law is not your friend.
They packed their dreams and fled
carrying the battered and bruised
while arrows cleaved open hearts that bled.
But this time they would choose
the mode of transportation they would use.
They fled the back-breaking cotton fields
to find a new indentured servitude await
up north in the stockyards and steel mills.
If you died, on a concrete floor you’d lay
until a pine box carried you away.
When the sun arced in the summer sky,
to return to the old South they sought
smoking Lucky Strikes and riding high
in the shiny new chariots they’d bought
to show the South what the new world hath wrought.
Wanda Williams Jackson is a Chicago native who began writing poetry, short stories, and essays as a youth. Currently, she lives with her husband in San Diego. Her poetry has been featured in two volumes of the San Diego Poetry Annual. She is a freelance content writer, and she is working on a novel. After reading Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, she became interested in the Great Migration and its impact on her parents who migrated to Chicago from the deep south in the 1940s. In 2020, she wrote Migration, her first full-length book of poetry.