Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bicycling Through The Underground Railroad

Today's posting was taken from an NPR piece on a group of cyclists riding 2,100 miles along the historic Underground Railroad. The journey from Mobile, Ala., to Ontario, Canada, follows the route that many slaves used to escape to freedom.

The multi-racial group of travelers say they have been deeply affected by the things they have seen and learned during their trek. The average age of the group is 60, and the oldest rider is 77. The six-week tour costs nearly $2,700. They left Mobile on April 14. There, they visited the slave market and a community formed by Africans who escaped from the last known slave ship to come to the U.S. in 1860, more than 50 years after the importation of African slaves was outlawed.

The path they are following is based partly on the spiritual "Follow the Drinking Gourd." The "Drinking Gourd" is a colloquial name for the "Big Dipper," the constellation that points to Polaris, the North Star. Many slaves followed that star north to freedom.

The trip's leader, Alvin Justelien, says the ride has been like a ministering program to him. He says he hopes people learn about the love it required for those involved in the railroad to put their lives on the line to help others. The riders say they hope the trip will promote more dialogue between the races and expect to reach Owen Sound in Canada, the final terminal of the Underground Railroad, on May 30.

Posting info provided by Allison Keyes at National Public Radio.

Now, here's a poem you can hop-on and ride:

To Somewhere Or By

A forest that gives way to paper.
Tarpaulin scratched across pages of verbs.
A door leading to your porcelain yes.
Pink undertones entwined or a cold sore.
Her spine curves into the turnstile.
He nuzzles closer, twice her size.
Language concealed in flashing signals.
There is rain on the rails.
The lavender in a dream (with ruffles).
Oil-slick bubbles in a burnt-blue shimmer.
The O in a vowel made form oak.
Mail that consists mostly of bills.
A leaf against my cheek.Knew it was,
anyway, and tug-of-warring.

This poem first appeared online at:
Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.
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