Momma’s Barren Hips


we buried her real proper
in a royal purple dress
in honor of our momma

momma had big barren hips
lips of prophesy
and eyes with the sight

she found broken little chain links
welded them back together with hope
took care of us the best she could
with hardly anything one could call a formal degree
her texas pedigree
was all the education
she needed to stand

we were like black folks on the whole
lost children on the lamb
messed over and up, up and over
entirely dependent on missing fathers
(fathers who were missing) ,
and daddy sam’s economically twisted will

they didn’t understand us
didn’t respect us
didn’t appreciate us
and did care to

neither one of them.

our natural mothers
were lost to insanity’s insatiable desire
burning them in fires of worldly lust
and self indulgence
pharmaceutical drugs
leaving us one and all
by the wayside

but momma had a big strong back
she carried us to the light
planted her seeds in tender minds
built a home where happy, stable children
proudly washed the woodwork
spoke when spoken to, and then respectfully
treated antiques
dusted her prized chandelier
washed pressed and rolled her hair
and tried never to leave fingerprints on the mirrors
where are reflections grew more beautiful over time

she raised strangers to be family
against the odds so plain to see
in ghetto streets where
even Jesus had little power

no man knows the day or the hour
but when hers came we mourned
but delighted in what was surely to come
I see her now at God’s feet
proudly looking down on me
saying, “Lord that there is my gifted child!

kin is as kin loves
love is as love does
but respect is what the heart trusts

Our family union may have been
fostered by social workers
who don’t remember our names
but honor was an ancient African scroll
engraved on a southern momma’s soul

We tried to give back the love
the best way unwanted children could
until the sweet chariot
carried our momma home

Jessica Holter

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