Steal Away

Sing in a whispuh 
steal away 
don’t let ‘im hear yuh 
when yuh pray 
come in de circle 
bend right ovuh 
drop yuh sorrow 
into de watuh* 
When yuh rage unleash 
and yuh feel yuh mus’ shout
don’t let ‘im hear yuh 
cover yuh mout’ 
breathe it into de watuh 
let de heat in yuh brain 
rise up like de mist 
and soothe like de rain
speak it low in de watuh
let de Spirit hear 
tell ‘im yuh pray 
dat deliverance near. 
Sing in a whispuh 
steal away 
don’t let ‘im hear yuh, 
he kill yuh next day.     

 *During their secret meetings, the slaves practiced the habit of speaking over a pot of water so as not to be overheard by the slave masters.

 


from When Ground Doves Fly (Ian Randle Publishers, 2003), © Esther Phillips 2003, used by permission of the author

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