Merrill Avenue: Poetry, Prose and Magic
Merrill Avenue is the block I grew up on, in the heart of Chicago. We could walk to the lake from my childhood home. Our parents, grandparents and great grandparents were pioneers, explorers and rebels. During the great migration they brought their strength, courage and soul food to the windy city and raised us with the same grit it took to take off and leave everything they knew. We are city born, country kids, raised in multi generational homes by women named Ginia, Gertrude, Ola and Emma Jean. We are roots and branches of the strongest trees. We played hard, fought hard but could find someone who loved us in every home on that block. Nobody was ever hungry or hurt without the whole block pitching in. Merrill Avenue is my ode to my mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins...my chosen family, The Mayes, Diggs, Pleasants, Teagues, Rays, Davises, Bowens, and Lathans, my foundation, my black life, my black write and all the black people who saved me when I didn’t even know I needed saving. The girls on the block who taught me to jump double dutch, braided my hair and tutored me in math. The elders who babysat so I could graduate from high school and gave my baby castor oil and fed her corn bread and pot liquor. This is for the girls who got their hair pressed in the kitchen the day before Easter. This is for boys who back flipped up and down the block. The people who used petroleum jelly for lotion Take the journey with me, I know I am not an anomaly and more often than not, you’ll find yourself in quite a few of the pages. Welcome to Merrill Avenue.
By: Deana Dean Anderson