Welcome to our new writing series, “Witchy Wednesdays!” To start things off we present one of the coolest readings from last month’s poetry salon and open mic celebrating women writers in Portland, Or:
(my mama done tol’ me)
on the Mayflower.
severed each other’s roots
ensnared and tore at the roots of Others
for a land across the sea;
they saw a slate they’d rub clean if they needed
with a little elbow grease.
warmed by witches
painted themselves white with blood.
learned slogans instead of stories or psalms.
Combing their hair straight and shining their eyes blue,
they hid in the shadows of share crops and gin runs.
Me People became
because they were able to
so they sought to be
and Better brought us burdens our stories aren’t here to hold.
So we put them off.
bred of self-righteous fortitude, cake-powder makeup and hateful muster
must foist the weight of our ethereal mass.
We must color ourselves in again
and admit the graying darkness of our nature.
My People, people-less,
must root down again,
gripping the hands of strangers,
and learn to share shade in the light.
Some valuable context:
“My mom used to sing that lyric (my mama done tol’ me) all the time whenever talking about her family stories. It’s from a song written by two white men trying to capture and popularize the American Blues scene, and the reference is meant to reflect how impossible it is as a white American not to invoke other cultures as my own.
The refrain “My People,” is borrowed from a poem one of my 4th-grade classmates wrote and read to our class about his Mexican ancestors. He was the shortest in our class and got picked on a lot, but I’ll never forget how proud he was when he read to us about his People. His poem was the first time I really realized that a person could have a People–and that whoever mine were, it wasn’t the same for me to be proud of them like my classmate.”