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Tuesday, March 15, 2022


by Tina M. MWP

after Jacob Lawrence’s "Daybreak - A Time to Rest," 1967.

"Daybreak—A Time to Rest" (tempera on hardboard) by Jacob Lawrence (September 7, 1917 – June 9, 2000) is one in a series of panel paintings that tell the story of Harriet Tubman (c. 1820–1913), the famed African-American woman who freed the enslaved using a fragile network of safe houses called the Underground Railroad. This abstracted image emphasizes Tubman's bravery in the face of constant danger. Lying on the hard ground beside a couple and their baby, she holds a rifle. Her face, pointing upward to the sky, occupies the near center of the canvas, her "body" surrounded by purple. Tubman's enormous feet, grossly out of proportion, become the focal point of the work. The lines delineating her toes and muscles look like carvings in a rock, as if to emphasize the arduous journeys she has made. Reeds in the foreground frame the prone runaways. Three insects(walking stick, beetle, and ant) are signs of activity at daybreak. —Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.9, no.3, June 2016

Blue bears down on the black horizon as twilight arrives
awakening an ant, a beetle and a walking stick.

The sandy bank of the lake, cooling all night from the days
harsh heat, offers a place to rest among the green reeds.

A family at last finds respite after trekking across perilous
terrain, the whites of their eyes disappear as the light rises.

But can they rest, people fleeing, trying to break free
from anvils strapped to their ankles? 

Even she, with resilient legs, brawny feet, calloused toes, 
toes that hold the silhouette of a mother cradling a baby,

half lays in the golden dunes, eyes to the sky, rests 
her fingers around the neck of the rifle.

Tina M. MWP (she/her) is committed to serving others through her professional life as an engineer and innovator in public health, and in her personal life, as a volunteer and tutor, and now, as a writer. She writes creative nonfiction and poems about belonging, identity, the power of language, and nature. She lives with her family in Rockville, MD.