Dream as Barbara Smith

Artefact: Article, ‘Soul on Hold’ , written by Barbara Smith, excerpted from ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around : Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith’, originally published in 1985 and reprinted by The Advocate , issue 1077, February / March, 2015. 
Barbara takes the train from Penn Station
Up to Boston
Where her sister, Beverley, is waiting for her
Outside the grand curve on Atlantic Avenue
Face, ready to collapse into a wide grin

Some hours back
Before that reunion
This train is slipping about in time
Not staying on chronological rails
Barbara heads out of the city in the cold
On the last day of March
Coldest March for thirty-one years, they say
She’s keen to move into April
And a new week
Shift neighbourhoods
Away from the debris on Second Avenue
Where those houses exploded last Thursday
All of 119 through 125
The façade of 121 blown clear across the street

Barbara has a neat music-player in her warm hands
Resting in her lap
Little white earbuds in her ears
Drowning out the carriage
She can shuffle through the years
Ahead of herself, too
Noticing that
Switching tracks
The train then pulling through the landscapes of
The next twelve months 
Or, another year
Twenty-nineteen, say
Barbara raises her eyebrows at this
A thrill

She’s playing Jamila’s voice
Singing out from a Chicago studio
Caught, late one night
Last take
On North Honore
Around the corner from Wabansia Avenue
Jamila loves that word
She’s singing about Betty and Frida and Sonia
Barbara clicks back
Wants to hear the lyrics through again
After the tenth play
She shuffles left three years
Closer to her own reality
Younger Ms Woods now singing
Ooh, ooh
Singing about magic
About telepathy
Rosa, Ella, Audre
Angela, Sojourner, Assata 
Barbara plays this one through and through, too
The lyrics imprinting onto her
Smiling every time she hears Audre namechecked in this roll call of love
Feels seen
Can’t help herself
Lines around her eyes, lifting up
Pushing her head back into the soft blue
The velcroed paper sheet
Stays like this a while
In this good place

When she’s about ten minutes out of South Station
She fumbles with the device
Scrolls around back to something safe from the current time
Past Beyoncé
Seven Eleven
No, no, too late
Up, up to Uptown Funk
Lingering Billboard crap
But, current
Pulls her reliably back into line
To now
The train, rejoining the present-time rails
Heaving to a slow and a stop
So she can step off
Onto the solid platform
Out through the halls
Across those great alternating triangles
Into the fresh wind-whipping street
And Beverley’s fierce embrace