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Nothing But a Momma
by Brenda Johnson
04/22/09
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She,with downcast eyes and onyx skin too dark to fade
into the too white world Mississippi had made
she knew well her place, that too narrow niche
she shriveled and she shrank trying too hard to fit

I, with angry eyes, amber skin, gift of ancient rapist
razor edged voice ever raised, weapon against the racist
A coffin, the only niche that could conceivably contain
the violently mixed blood running in my veins

As in a polite conversation we opposites became engaged
she said she had raised five children on her pauper's wage
Now, I am raising one of my grans, calls him JuneBug
He ainít right, mos times lays curled up on a rug
Po soul, not his fault, his mama drank a lot you know
JuneBug, real tall, I guess folks right, he kinda slow
He sixteen now, and he donít mean nobody no harm
Scares folks a lil, but I thanks he got a peculiar charm
I hate liquor, it never done nobody no kindness
Doctaís say its what caused JuneBugís blindness
Why after his momma knew all what her dranking done
She lef him, never knowing it done that, then some

His mama, I asked, quiet at last, does she ever call

Noímam, I reckon she still serving that demon alcohol

Mam, I said, my voice no longer a blade, are you a saint?

I loves the Lord, she said, but a saint I surely ainít
Why, my husban, use ta beat me, nearly took my life
Werenít no saint when I cut him wif my butcher knife
Ifífen he'd a killed me, who woulda raised my chirren
No, I ainít nothin but a momma, it's the best I ever been


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