09 December 2010

Voices and Soul

30 November 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Editor

I come from a strong Matriarchy; so strong in fact, one might say I come from a feminist extended-family. There was no division of labor by gender when doing chores, growing up; all of us mowed the lawn, washed dishes, cooked, cleaned. When we lived on the farm outside of Corvallis; all of us learned to sew and sow.

The great Matriarch of the Family, our Great Aunt Mabel, lived to be 102. Shortly after marriage in the late 1880's, she and her new husband provisioned a covered wagon and trekked across the plains on their way to California. Along the way, as she put it, "he wasn't up to snuff, so I had to kick him out." She took up with another fellow during the almost year long voyage; and he was "worse than the first", so he was sent packing as well. It took a special man to be with this special woman; as it has been, as it is and as it will be with all the women in my family.

I've heard the accusation, on more than one occasion, that the women in the family are "full of themselves."

"Yes," is their unabashed reply, resonating across the generations, "yes we are!"

Poem For A Lady Whose Voice I Like

so he said: you ain’t got no talent   
    if you didn’t have a face   
    you wouldn’t be nobody

and she said: god created heaven and earth   
    and all that’s Black within them

so he said: you ain’t really no hot shit   
    they tell me plenty sisters   
    take care better business than you

and she said: on the third day he made chitterlings   
    and all good things to eat   
    and said: “that’s good”

so he said: if the white folks hadn’t been under   
    yo skirt and been giving you the big play
    you’d a had to come on uptown like everybody else

and she replied: then he took a big Black greasy rib
    from adam and said we will call this woeman and her   
    name will be sapphire and she will divide into four parts   
    that simone may sing a song

and he said: you pretty full of yourself ain’t chu

so she replied: show me someone not full of herself   
    and i’ll show you a hungry person

-- Nikki Giovanni

No comments: