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LISTEN MY CHILE


I know you think you been raised ’cause you grown now

but a mama always got to wonder

what else can I say to my child who is black?

I know what you’re thinking

She’s been talkin’ my whole life,

it’s time to let well enough alone, to trust me, to let me be,

but you know your mama, and I couldn’t rest,

not even with the Lord hisself,

if I thought I left my task unfinished or even one word unsaid.

Did I tell you that no matter how tough the task,

how high the steps, or how hard the journey,

It’s OK to get weary?--but you ain’t walkin’ this walk alone.

You always got my footprints to guide you

’cause I been down this road before.

Now I know your feet ain’t mine

and we can’t step into the same shoes

and I know too you gonna find your own way--

all I’m saying is that you ain’t by yourself.

Have I told you I’m sorry

’cause I wasn’t always the one who lifted you when you fell,

healed you when you ached, or helped you when you hurt?

But sometimes making that way out of no way just took all I had.

Every once in a while I had to leave the mothering

to God’s own guardian angels--them other mamas,

the aunties, the sisters, the grannies and the nannies--

but you know you was loved.

and chile, I’ll always be your mama.

Mama to mine,

Mother to the motherless,

and missus to my man,

but I never stopped being my own woman.

I got feet that been trampled, and blisters and my blisters,

but I can still kick up the dust, walk a mean high-heel strut,

and cross my legs with the uppitiest of women on a

first Sunday morn.

Chile,no matter how tough things get--

and they gonna get mighty tough--

You got to keep going. You ain’t gonna make it

stopping short or standing still.

Sometimes being a woman is so tough,

you gonna feel like you trying to dance on quicksand

or catch up to the moon

but trouble’s always coming, and you can’t stop it

no more than you can hold back the tears

or sweep up the ocean with a raggedy old broom.

But you gonna make it, the Father above told me it would be true.

’Sides, I wouldn’t be looking for nothing less

’Cause I’m expecting at least that much out of you.--


Mama


SOURCE: Lorraine Johnson-Coleman. Just Plain Folks: Original tales of Living, Loving, and Learning, As Told by a Perfectly Ordinary, Quite Commonly Sensible, and Absolutely Awe-Inspiring Colored Woman. Little, Brown, and Company, 1998.

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