Augusta Savage

by Linda Scheller


She heard the earth sing
and dug, as children do,
with pointed stones and sticks,
extracting slick handfuls.

The clay sang in her hands
small songs of squirrels and birds
and no amount of blows
could make her stop.

Furtive art followed, then
shed of family, formal school
and Harlem’s like-minded
scintillations lifted.

To live by art is hard
but harder still outside the lines
of white and male, their plasters
bronzed but hers, hammered.

She fled from harassment
to a barn and raised doves,
tended lab mice, and sculpted
in a chicken coop with gifts of clay.

The music of the human face
and nature’s forms she knew
and taught the young to make the songs
she heard the earth sing.

Linda Scheller is the author of two books of poetry, Wind & Children (Main Street Rag, 2022) and Fierce Light (FutureCycle Press, 2017). Her poetry, plays, and book reviews are published in numerous journals including Colorado Review, Poetry East, Terrain, and Sugar House Review. Ms. Scheller serves on the boards of the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center and the Stanislaus County Arts Council. Her website is