MISSISSIPPI


M - I 

my, my 
how my daughter done grown 
growing up twixt 
bowed pine needles 
red clay cricks 
forever duck- and weaving 
a weeping willow switch 

CROOKED LETTAH, CROOKED LETTAH 

Mama that switch wasn’t fair 

life ain't fair, child 
never said it was 
simply the way it be's 

I know about fair, Mama 
blackwatch plaid parochials 
The nonexistence of fair 
scrubbed pink nails facing down 
Fair being who you are 
arched palms stinging 
Fair being where you at 
Westcott rulers never soft 
Fair has always been relative 
Sister Immaculata called me out 
For Black girls like me 
as Mary and I discussed a division problem 
I never could solve those problems without a remainder 
Mary being white without a whipping 
I, inescapably black 
corrupting porcelain's purity... 



girl, you been trained better 
change that big "I" to small 
done lost your faculties? 
you forgot where you be? 
white folks'll think 
you full of yourself 
drawing so much attention 

CROOKED LETTAH, CROOKED LETTAH 

But Mama, 
A letter came to our P.O. Box 
The University wrote saying 
They want me 
I've been accepted... 



girl, i don't know what i'ma do with you 
looking for acceptance from white folks 
you ain't done learned nothin for all your smarts 

HUMPED BACK, HUMPED BACK - I... 

Help me, Mama 
My back's out 
I need you, I can't stand 

yes you can 
if you let go 
lose that extra burden 
a back can't help but be humped 
forever talking about fair 

when you gonna learn that 
no matter how much education 
or how much you attain 
whether it be riches or fame 
now, don't move none 
don't you dare flinch 

Her concentrated, gospel hands 
Stroke and palpate 
My knotted, weary back 
Calmly expressing truth 
Before setting me straight 

in all but a few rare eyes, 
my poor fool child, 
you're nothing more 
just some niggah wench