By Qelilah Solomon
Tuesday, November 2, 2004

In the land of Abraham
of Ephra, Epher, Ophir
Land of gold, silver, and spice
Ancient Land called Jaffir
Watching merchants come and go
off ocean close at hand
Bringing ivory, taking gold
to every land

Father leaves us after Shabbot
in birth pains of the night
In the secret, in the quiet,
learning forbidden manhood right
Hiding this from loving kindness,
gentle female, darling mother
Learning all the secret writings,
readings from beloved brother

Born together, weaned together,
together play, not apart
Why not learn what boys are learning?
Why not learn with joy
of heart?
Torah teaching, Shabbot prayers,
festivals of grain and
Scrolls uncovered, texts discovered.
Not yet a rose
did cut the bud.
Now never bloom, never open
just be the female kind
Brother punished, sent away,
how long I must have pined.
Then word and letter, thoughts did form
of gust and wind and ship wreck storm.
Of thieves, of pirates, castaways,
of cargo thrown and tossed.
Of kidnap, killings, of savage hand
Enslaved, abandoned, lost.
Raise the ransom, make it high
sell all to pay the fee
mother mourn, father torn
"who will say Kaddish for me?"
Ole Elihobo come and say
that for travel it is bad
They take, they buy,
they sell so much for us it is so sad.
"The Christian hates us for there Christ
The Mussel man hate us too
The Muslims sell, the Christians buy
Who cares? You`re just Hebrew.
So gather all your fair arrows
make sure you guard them well.
For that`s the gold they want to buy
Want to buy and sell."
"I have seen a Christian man
He has employed my brother
Of the learned men
in all of Spain
Of him there is no other
The Christian man appreciates
our intellect and might.
My brother is as their own
`Tho he be black, they white"
Elihobo began to quake
and shake as prophets do.
He said beware of your content
Remember you`re Hebrew.
Months went by and time went on
Our village safe and sound.
Harvest time, Succoth time
brother, not yet found.
Harvest and celebration time
for joy and festival.
For smells of spice, yam and meat,
for sacrifice of the bull.
Then screams and calls cut through the air
Men running from the shore.
To find village, children, wives,
Their families were no more.
Oh yes, some lived and some had died
Elihobo`s words came back
Of Christian, Muslim, Native man
To take or sell a Black
A maiden girl I had been
ere yon voyage terror
a twin, daughter, learned one
Where then was my error?
Thank God that Father was a merchant
taught Jacob of tongues and ways
what he was taught was taught to me
those are remembered days
Tho` I kept quiet on that ship
as cramped and close we were.
Two expressions I learned fast
was yahsir and nahsir.
I thought of brother to myself
maybe he is on a ship.
Of Uncle in his precious Spain
I fantasized the trip.
Yet we had heard from Uncle
and how safe and sound he`d been
Oh, how I wished we all had gone
we would be there with him then
But now we land on island near
to sort the Jew from goy.
to learn to be a good Christian
to sort the girl from boy.
To strip us of our locks and clothes
and all that we hold moral.
To teach us of a different word
so we`d forget our Torah.
Prepared and baptized on this isle
we set forth on voyage anew.
To take upon a Christian name
but in heart, still Hebrews

And finally on distant land
with folks of varied hue.
To be sold as Christian slaves
and forget that you are Hebrew.
So off I go to Georgialand
to work the land of Creek
To mingle andassimilate
I find the one I seek!
For I am sure it was by fate
that Yacob was found here.
And as I looked in his dying face
he brought his young son near.
"This is my son
they call him Jewish
he has no Christian name.
Teach him to stay and be content
like Babu, he is the same.
Teach him all the things you know
the tongues and Torah`s ways.
Make sure he remembers our dear ones,
the land of better days."
Jew Ben Solomon lost that name
Lew Solomon he came to be.
Jewish Solomon to Lewis Solomon
was not so derogatory.
But Jacob was my first born
and I saw Lewis too.
And together they learned Torah and prayer
Together they learned Hebrew.
Then war and cold and marching trek
separated family again.
Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee,
their freedom was to end.
Grown old and sick,
left to die
in frozen cold and snow.
Legacy handed down
No better peace I know.
From Jaffir Eprah Epher,
Yes, land of Africa
came Beti Solomon
died Odessa
born Ha das sah...

"Broke a toe and an eye
kissin` him you make him cry
kissin` him you wanna die
broke a toe and an eye"

"Honey what are you singing to our son?"
"Just a song handed down through time"
"What does it mean?"
"Your guess is as good as mine."

Jiji Solomon

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