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Single mother, anointing 133rd and Lennox.

You just know She descends from A wide-shoulder'd people. You know, by her carriage she was One of Harriet's defiant daughters, before She put on a red dress and became Ellington's flame. And became a sepia coquette, that lyrical flirt in Langston's Muse. And became the Blues petering from the other end of Satchmo's horn. And became The Hurt, the outrage burning in Emmet Till's Dying eye. And became a crusader, like Fannie Lou (because Times dictated She had to). And became a foot soldier, yet another Colored marcher with a hymn On her lips. And became a thin but strong Black fist in a crowd, shouting, "Revolution!" And became the afro-topped, ever vigilant Earth-mother, keeping watch over tomorrow's Dredlocked children. Her credentials read: BLACK WOMAN. And her Beauty hurts your eye.

But know this: She stands, now, having Summoned the will, the backbone to Rise, again. Not leaning, but erect, upright As projects rest upon her small, brown shoulders. She stands, like a womanly tree, rooted and strong because Bending in a storm was never her option. See, the act itself never suited her Posture. See, Sister's got too much history to bend. One look, and you will know this much.

She never got Used to being somebody's Victim, or somebody's slave At the end of a nobody's whip. She never Became a willing conspirator. Her soul never answered to Girl, nigra gal, darkie, pickaninny, mulatto. Was never meant to be Some sad-sob sista or somebody's premature widow. Somebody's maid, mammie. Mother. Yes. And father too. Mother, mother there are far too many of you crying, And trying to survive, here, in someone else's America. But she stands tall, never stooping.

She stands, because the Posture of her tired soul never yielded To bending. Though today, she may carry The weight of projects on her small, Black frame, She knows how to keep her self intact, erect, together. Must've learned it way back in her African youth, when she Reigned, History's Mother. Shoulders straight, body poised In all its defiant grace. A lover of Kings. The Nile's bejeweled And Singular Sensation. A Queen, who basked in the regalness Of her own self. Even today, on this street corner, in her sensible Shoes, manless, and wearing those invisible jewels of self-determination,

She Reigns.

Linwood M. Ross of Port Chester, NY, is a prolific poet-playwright and author. His work has been featured in AAR on several occasions.
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Author:Ross, Lindwood M.
Publication:African American Review
Date:Mar 22, 1999
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