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The North Side Of The Trees Free Audio Download #OneFromThe Archive 2012

When I performed with Baaba Maal Pt. 2

After the performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, myself, Lemn Sissay, TJ Dema and Inua Ellam. recorded our poems. What you have here in this blog is free download of the recording.

You can read the original blog and my excited remembrance of the event HERE.

This poem was inspired by the will of Harriett Tubman. She was an escaped slave who risked her life to return to the South numerous times at personal risk to bring African slaves from the pro-slavery inflamed South to the ‘Free North'.


“Moss grows thicker on the north side,” Harriet was told by her father, Ben Ross. This little piece of advice helped the conductor of the ‘Underground Railroad' free 319 persons to their freedom, through forested terrain, over the Mason Dixon, into New York. Some kept going into Canada.

Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.  

- Harriet Tubman


Written by Zena Edwards©

Once upon a time

A very real time, a time incomprehensible to now

A time when 3/5ths totalled less than human

When men were workhorses and women for stock-breeding

A time when the Word of a black book

Was beaten Into layers of black skin: it was a black sin!

To a time when trading in flesh was gravaliscious*

And humanity, bereft, was left wanting

People of a melanated skin would be running

Running north to a haven

Built with smouldering bricks of freedom

On the toes of their feet

They fled

From the south to the north

They fled

Blood beating in their chests,

They fled

Fear stoking their breath

They fled

And if the night was not merciful and the clouds hid the moon

If the stars turned their faces, if the night was still born

Those runners, those Freedom Seekers

Would feel the lash of the trees saps

As they ran their feet crack twig: snap!

They'd reach out their hands into the black

Of “I will. I must. I can.”

They’d feel For the mercy of the trees

Where the moss grew

On the north side

The north side of the trees

To the North, to the North

To the Freedom of Days

They’d reach out to

The north side of the trees.

History played a nefarious game

Chattel slavery was cheat

Harriet Tubman did greet Mother Nature’s brief; blatant and discreet.

"Look up for Polaris'* crown

If diabolic mists persist

Then reach out, bite your fear 

Bear forward till your eyes tear

Reach out for the north side of the trees.

NB: *gravaliscious - greedy **Polaris – The North Star

All right reserved and copyright . Zena Edwards©



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