When folks find out I’m him
they always want to know what I say to ’em.
If they be white I tell ’em I say,
Run an run quick
or they gone feed you to the niggers.
An they usually laugh an leave me be.
If they be black I tell them the truth.
I tell them how I cup my hand to a horse’s ear
how I let it catch some wind so they remember
what it sound like to run full out
to know you not just a field hand or a work horse
but beautiful, an strong an smart.
I don’t never have to ask them to honor something
you can’t really see just feel.
I just nudge ‘em like they exhausted mammas do
soon as they are born an licked dry
until they unfold them wobbly legs an stand.
When I’m up there, I rub my hands against their neck,
lean into their ear, pretend I’m the wind, an whisper,
“Find your purpose. Find your purpose” and hold on.
Frank X Walker
“Murphy’s Secret” is from I Dedicate This Ride: The Making of Isaac Murphy (Old Cove Press, 2010).