Brownland Browsing

by Anita Jones

when you sit down you make a lap   a place for something to happen   cradle your plate at the potluck where they didn’t think enough to set up tables   rock a baby to sleep   bounce a toddler on your knee   pat out the rhythm for juba-this-and-juba-that

when you stand up your lap disappears but the notion is always there

Brownland is a place   only happens when black folk gather, sit down and make a collective lap   a cultural meadow, designed for browsing   a hereditary mecca conjured up by and cropping up amongst kin folk and friend folk as they stir up memories of their past    and the past of their past

grown folk argue about who’s telling the truth   That was watcha-ma-callum’s daughter, lived over in the Pear Orchard     Naw, naw, you got it all wrong now, that was so-an-so’s sister’s baby girl, she went off to New York

and the children bask in the memories they can only know through stories

rub them on

like a balm

baptized in the blessings

of this

Brownland browsing
2004