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