eighty-three          

           I rec'nize one de songs fo'ks singin' in a indigo fiel' today—sho' sign us be closin' in on home. Zach'ry out dat funk, 'cep' worry still vexin' dem deep-blue eyes. Boaf' us know dat de life us leadin' cain't las': travelin' toget'er, eatin' an' sleepin toget'er, makin' love whenev' us gets de notion. Mos' times it not dang'rous 'coun' dey's no one about. But yes'erday someun seed—was a White man. Zach'ry gots me stan'in' shuck-down nekid in dis stream, soapin' an' washin' an' splashin' kine playful-like, laughin' aw de while, when a shadow fall like Deaf' come creepin' 'cross 'is face. I look where him look; a Patterroller on de bridge starin' down wiff snake-mean eyes, gots him a shotgun—what not 'xac'ly aim' it at us, but nosin' our way. I figger Zach'ry preten' him scrubbin' some no-'coun' nigger, treat me rough so 's to cover up what us at. But him don'. Him finish rinse me off—keepin' hisse'f 'twix' me an' de White man's vision—den guides me onto de bank an' he'ps me wiff my dress—aw de time makin' sho I block' from view. Shakin' like a leaf, I was, but Zach'ry oak-tree soliddraw a bead hisse'f on de Patterroller's eye, an' 'spite dat big ol' gun make de Patterroller leave.

            I so happy Zach'ry don' fo'sake me!

            It trouble, dough. Him stubbo'n an' proud an' likely get us killt—bein' use' to fo'ks obeyin', be dey black o' be dey White. But not aw fo'ks alike, an' sho 'nuff some what downright deadly.