Sunday, July 26, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 148 - Your song

On days I only want to sit and let
all these feelings
wash over me
to sit in peace or sadness or glee

I say your name
his name and hers
your name
all of your names

Your names have become
the saddest songs I know
I sing them off key
I say them like your mama and daddy would
I pronounce all of the syllables

I call you forth
I remember you
I write poems about you
I tell your stories
I carry on your memory

Because you were here
Because you lived
Because you mattered
Because you matter

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Me with Angel - from Women in The Village

The following is a transcribed text from a taped conversation I had with Angel McKinney, a woman I've known from The Village for over fifteen years.

Sunny: When did you know you were bipolar and how did it start?

Angel: I don't know when exactly it started. maybe sometime in middle school if I have to put my finger on it. Maybe seventh or eighth grade. There wasn't all this conversation about mental illness like there is starting to be now. My family just thought I was quiet and moody from time to time. Then other times I was the life of the party. They called it just being an artist. When I called it anything I called it confusing. I didn't understand how I could go from feeling so good and happy like I could fly then a few days later being so low and hopeless I didn't know why life was worth living. I just didn't get it. I used to ask my sister if she ever felt so sad and didn't know why. She told me to stop talking crazy and that's what I did. I stopped talking about it.

Sunny: How do you cope? Was there one person in particular you spoke with or did you take long walks or medicate with something or something like that?

Angel: I took over the counter meds when I was grown to go to sleep because I could never sleep. I could stay up for days. I got hooked on those things too. I'm on a regular dose of prescription meds now though. Mostly I wrote. I still write all the time. I kept journals filled with stories I made up, dark poems, Bible scriptures, quotes I collected to motivate myself, run away notes when I was a child...

Sunny: You ran away?

Angel: No, but I would get so down and being depressed would make me angry and weepy and my parents and brother and sisters telling me I had nothing to cry about made me feel more alone and sad I thought about running away. Actually I thought about suicide more but I was too afraid of burning in hell for the rest of eternity. I knew a girl who killed herself when we were teenagers. She was a good friend of mine. I never knew she was sad or felt that lonely. We never talked about it. We were church friends. She was two years older than I and we sang in the junior choir together at the church I grew up in out in Hawthorne. St. Luke Baptist Church.

Sunny: How did she do it?

Angel: Somehow she got a hold of a gun and shot herself in the head.

Sunny: Wow! How old was she?

Angel: Only in the ninth grade. She was so beautiful too. It was on a school day and she had gotten home before her mother as usual. They say she called her mother to say goodbye, but I don't know what she said. Anyway, when her mother got home she found her body. Whole thing just tore up the church because it was the Friday before Mother's Day. That Sunday the junior choir was lining up to sing for God and our mothers and the ushers were passing out the programs with Mother's Day notes we had written to our mothers and grandmothers. And wouldn't you know it, there on the first page was the note Carmen had written to her mother. It was a sad, sad day. I just kept remembering that I just saw her the Sunday before and she told me I was beautiful. Imagine that. Carmen taking the time out to see some kinda beauty in me with everything she musta had going on inside her head. Sad people can always pick out other sad people and I guess we know what we need to be for each other.

Anyway, Deacon Combs and his wife were talking to Carmen's mother in the pastor's small office in the rear of the church and I was just behind the room and could hear everything and pretended that I couldn't. I was so shocked that Sis. Johnston, Carmen's mother, even had enough energy to come to church. I just had to know what they were saying to her. Even though I was supposed to be in church. I pretended I was drinking water from the fountain behind the office for as long as I could.

Sunny: What were they saying to her?

Angel: Well, I couldn't hear everything but what I did hear devastated me. Deacon Combs said that murder and suicide were great sins and especially suicide because there was no way of asking God's forgiveness and that Ms. Johnston would never see her daughter again because Carmen was going to hell. I heard Ms. Johnston scream a scream I never heard before. She sounded like a cat with its tail on fire. I had to see her face. I came to the front of the office but the thin shabby door was shut but I could still hear her scream. Then it was muffled. Maybe Sis. Combs was hugging her I thought. I will always remember that sound. I thought it was so cruel of them to tell her that. So cruel. How do they know who God forgives and who God doesn't? When I was old enough to stop going to that church without my family getting on my case, I did.

Sunny: Is that why you never considered suicide?

Angel: I have considered it. But not until I was grown. I never attempted it or anything like that but I sure did think dying might be easier than living on some days. As a child, after I heard that scream, I really didn't know why to believe. So I had fantasies of running away to a place where people understood me. Even when, especially when I didn't have the words to say what was hurting me so badly.

Sunny: Did you ever get close to running away when you were a child?

Angel: Girl, no! I was too scared of neighborhood dogs and the dark!

(We laugh)

No, I just wrote notes. Private notes in my journal. Except one time I left a runaway note folded up on the television in the living room while my mother was sitting close by on the couch. I told her in the note that as soon as I was back from the store for her then I was going to run away. I even signed it, Love, Angel.

(Angel laughs at herself remembering the note)

When I got back the note was gone and I asked her if she read it.

Sunny: What did she say?

Angel: She told me that she didn't read it. She just threw it away because she thought the paper was trash. But I knew she read it. I could see it in her teary red eyes. She read it and maybe just didn't know what to do with and emotionally disturbed child. Her baby at that. Bit I didn't know either. I didn't know what to do with myself.

Sunny: Did it get better for you in high school?

Angel: I wrote more. I would say things got better until I was grown. The mood swings kept coming but I have a friend who is a doctor, a psychologist. We were out for coffee once hen I opened up to him about where I was emotionally. He suggested I see a therapist. It was only because he recommended I see one that I did. This made my second therapist.

Sunny: Your second? Who and when was our first and what was that like?

Angel: I was about forty years old when I say my first. She was referred to me by another friend. Her office was close by and her rates were reasonable enough. We talked mostly about the depression. I saw her for about six months.

Sunny: Why did you stop?

Angel: Because during a particularly bad episode, that's what she called them, episodes (I had just called them the crazies) she asked me how bad the pain was on a scale of one to ten. I told her an eight. She asked if I thought of suicide and I told her that I had but had never tried it. She told me to write down some names of people I would call if things ever got to where I thought I would try it. She even told me to include her name on the list. So I did. I sat in her office and made a list of ten people including her.

The next week I told her I was still feeling down and we talked that full hour. Then I came in the next week and I was about to start talking, because that's how we always began our sessions. Before I could open my mouth or get comfortable on the couch she told me that she wasn't going to be able to see me anymore. She told me that this kind of thing happened from time to time between therapist and client and she was sorry it happened with us but she had come to a point where couldn't see me.

Sunny: Did you ask her why?

Angel: Of course. She said she thought we had some similar family issues and she couldn't tell if she was advising me or working out her own issues. Basically I felt like she gave me the "it's not you, it's me" speech.

She said she had another referral for me and that the other doctor would be a good match for me. I didn't want to see anybody. Especially not anybody she knew. I spent six months spilling my secrets to this woman and then I got dumped. And for reasons I didn't and still don't understand. I asked her if she wanted me to just leave right then and there and to my surprise she said yes. I slowly picked up my bag and walked out of her office. I told myself I would never let myself get that close to anyone again. Here I was living my life and she couldn't even hear about it once a week for a fee. I was cool on therapists. And she was a white woman too. I got a thing about white women. The judgment in their eyes, the snotty sing song in their voices. But I put that aside with her. She was about my age and seemed cool enough. I let my guard down and what did I get? Kicked out. And just think, just two weeks before I told her I was thinking about killing myself. Yeah right, put her name on my list. She was on my list all right.

(We laugh again but even through the laughter I could hear see the pain in her eyes)

Sunny: What was her name?

Angel: I forgot her last name. I just called her Beth.

Sunny: Just Beth?

Angel: She just called me Angel, so yeah.

(Angel reaches for her purse and pulls out a cigarette and lighter. In all the time I've known her I never knew she smoked.)

You mind?

Sunny: No go ahead.

Angel: I told you I got a thing about white women. I can't call another one by title or Ms. If they don't like the sound of their first name out my mouth we can't deal. Especially if they aren't calling me Ms.

Sunny: And how long was it between the last time you saw Beth and when you saw the next doctor?

Angel: About a year. And I liked her too. A black woman. A real sista, you know. I knew I was gonna relate with her right off. She understood things that I didn't have words to say. It was because of her I saw my first psychiatrist.

Sunny: Wait a minute. What kind of doctor was she?

Angel: She was a psychologist. A doctor you talk to. Psychiatrists can issue meds.

Sunny: Okay. How did you come to see the other doctor?

Angel: I had an appointment with my therapist, Marie one day and I showed up about fifteen minutes late, which was not my habit. I was going through another bad episode. I was off. Way off. And she could tell. She told me that I had to give her the number of a friend of mine to call to have me checked into a hospital. Of course I refused. Then she said if I didn't she was going to call the police. After some whining on my part, I gave her my friend, Kiesha's number. As much as I didn't want to go into the mental hospital it was the best thing for me. I was diagnosed as being bipolar with sever depression. I had never been diagnosed before. I didn't like having a label but I did like finally knowing what was going on with me. I spent a week in the hospital and wrote about it in my journal. You wanna see it?

Sunny: Sure. You mind if I publish it

Angel: No, not at all. I know what it's like not having the words for the dark clouds inside. If my words will bring clarity to someone else I wanna do that. I have another journal entry and a poem you can have too. You want 'em?

Sunny: Yep, and thank you so much for being open with me.

Angel: Girl, thank you for the space to be. I hope it will be useful.

Friday, July 24, 2015

For Sharon Edwards - from Women in The Village

Sharon ain't much talkin' to nobody these days. You can't much blame her. She barely put two sentences together for me and I'm her only sister. Ain't sayin' much to Big Marv neither. That's her husband so he do best he can to support her but you gotta remember that boy was his son too. Ain't just the mama grievin', it's all of us. And everybody handle it in a different way. You know that. Ain't never seen no grief like what Sharon holding onto though. And what to do what all the grief? That's the question.

Ain't like she could carry it to the white woman at the phone company and explain that a man killed her son and got away with it. Because who besides us care about black boys anyway And even though the story is no longer on the news his picture still on the coffee table next to the Bible and Vogue mags and the bills. Ain't like it's possible to get an extension on the mortgage and car payments 'cause sleeping only on the couch for a month straight and goin' nowhere fast shouldn't cost as much anyway.

And who really understands all this except someone who been through it. Still going through it like our family goin' through it. And the doctor tell her to eat something and take something and try to get some sleep. But who can sleep and think straight when every time her eyes close she see cops with devil horns and baby pictures.

And you tell me who can be a normal woman and mother when you don't know whether to call yourself a mother anymore? Who can go outside and see teenagers wearing shirts that say they remember and they will never forget? Who can put on lipstick every day and walk past an empty room. Why are mothers supposed to be this strong and pray this hard? I have twin  baby girls of my own and I still have to explain to them that they gotta wait to see their cousin Marvin in heaven. This is not God's plan. It's not. Black boys faces on t-shirts every time I turn around like dead black boys are fashion. And how come ain't not black girls on shirts nowhere?

This ain't what God wanted. Can't be. What God would plan this? What God would need an angel so badly it would have to take ours? And how could anyone have nothing to do when there are babies lives to save and streets to walk down and teachers to meet with and good cops to find and drug dealers to cuss out. And are white boys and girls needed in heaven too?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Patrice and the rebellion - from Women in The Village

We've come here for many reasons and from many different places. I met Raz about a year and a half after I got here. We only dated about three months then moved in together. You just know when you know. She had a place and I had a place but we knew we wanted our own place together. You know, to start new memories and stories in that place.

I loved to write stories and essays. Still do. I don't do it as much as I used to but I keep journals still. Mostly about my life, my life with Raz, struggles and blessings we experience, being black and gay in this country, all kinds of things. Raz is the painter. She painted most of these in here.

"I used to take her painting classes when I was a teenager."

She talks about those times. I was still at Berkeley then.

"Tell me about the riot."

Not the riot, honey, the rebellion. We rebelled! Well Marvin had just been killed by the police. Had been a string of police shootings and Marvin Edwards was just the straw that set the city off. Like a lot of the cases, Marvin was with his friends and the police decided to harass a group of black children. People talk about how bad race relations were in the sixties in the deep south, but the same thing was going on right here in L.A. mid nineties. Not just L.A. either. All over this country.

Seem like we were getting harassed all around then. Just two days before I had gotten jumped by two black men and one woman because I was gay. Then I show up at the rally for Marvin protesting he killing and harassment of black people by the police. We were all gathered at the fountain. There were about two hundred folks there. From all parts of the state. We were chanting with our fists up 'Stop! Stop! Kill no more! Police brutality at our door!' Then I don't know who but somebody set off a fire cracker and seem like all hell broke loose. I saw one of those cops lift up his stick over a woman and was about to swing on her. I just had to do something. She had tripped and was at the bottom of the tree holding her hands up to protect herself from the inevitable swing. I just couldn't let that happen. I ran over and jumped on his back. I was clawing at his face and trying to hold on. He was screaming 'Get off me you bitch! Get off me!' My weight on his back had him crouched over then he got some power from somewhere and stood straight up. Just shot up. He did that and shook me right off him. I fell straight back and hit my head on something. Just happened news cameras was all around and one of the stations got a video of the whole thing. We end up going to court 'cause I sure did sue them, yes I did. I won too. We settled out of court and I can't talk about how much I got. But I won though. Been five years now and the still ain't let me forget it. I didn't pick up and move or nothin'. I stayed right in here. They still drive by waitin' for me to slip up. I ain't the one they need to watch though. They need to watch themselves 'cause they still doin' dirt. You know that don't you. They messier then these gangs out here.

I don't know how much you want me to tell you but that's about all I have.

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 147 - Who are we

We are souls caught on fire
Hand clapping and rain dancing
Telling stories and casting spells
We are shouts and big voices
To the heavens
To the streets
To the police
Hands off our boys
Hands off our girls
Hands off our women and men

Who are we
Who are we
Walking up and down the road
Screaming black lives matter
Power to the people

Who are we
We are fighting to be happy
And educated and safe
We are the brokenhearted
You see all these tears
Staining up our shirts
You see all these fists
Balled up so proud and free
You see these hands in the air
These hoodies on our heads
We know you see

Who are we
Who are we
You hear us screaming for freedom
You hear us fighting for justice
Calling out names to the heavens
You see us
Gone too soon
You see us
In jail and homeless
You see us
Powerful and brave
You hear us
You see us
I know you do
You know who we are
And you know what we want

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hallelujah (draft 2)

For every hallelujah
A fist is raised in the air
Slowly and surely
Nails bloody up palms
Veins thump
Like give me some freedom
Keep this dog off my back
Let me breathe

Prayers are tied in balled fingers like
Lord, I can't hold this no more
Lord, carry this burden
These tears are tired of the struggle
Struggle of being colored
And poor
And woman
And underpaid
Struggle of not fitting in or out of the margins

Every hallelujah holds
A heartbreak underneath
Holds nerves shaking bold as earthquakes

Every hallelujah holds
The hot still breath of mamas and papas
Waiting for boys and girls
To come home
Come home
Come home
Be alive and well
Jesus be a fence around our babies

Every hallelujah holds
A praise for how we got over
How our souls look back and wonder

Hallelujahs say thank You, praise You, bless Your name
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah holds a promise to hang on a little longer
Give me strength, Lord
Give me strength, Lord
Hallelujah holds hope
Holds questions
So many questions
To a God big enough for our questions
For now questions
For later questions
Oh Lord questions

A hallelujah wonders
A hallelujah knows
A hallelujah believes
A hallelujah has lost faith
A hallelujah has found its way
A hallelujah has been through something

What does your hallelujah hold
Baby, are you weary
Are you waiting
Are you wailing
Are you praising somewhere in that hallelujah
Are you ready
Ready for conversations
Ready for results
Ready for blessings to pour down like flood
Ready for a fight
Ready for dreams to come true
For tears to stop flowing
Are you ready for the living to be easy

Hallelujah anyhow
For your hallelujah
And mine

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 146 - In praise

Praise God for blessings
new and old. Glory be to
Spirit for this day.

My students working on their poem!

Chas Jackson and I taught summer school together and the students were great! I love each one of these young people. And I loved teaching with Chas. The time went by too fast.

Life. Lessons. Still livin'. (Miss Bettye) - from Women in The Village

We never want it to end right? Isn't that the whole point of getting together in the first place? That dream, that fantasy, that white dress or whatever. Well, I didn't get mine. That's why I'm here. I told myself a different story back then, but really I moved away so that I could get a new start somewhere else, without him. That's what brought me here.

Trouble was, I just couldn't shake him. Could, couldn't. Why do we say that? Could, couldn't? When we know full well that we can do what we want. We always do. I couldn't shake him 'casue I didn't. But I just didn't shake him don't sound right.

When we're really feeling sorry for ourselves we choose our words careful enough to make ourselves the victim, don't we I guess that's one of the reasons the good spirit brought me to be in the midst of y'all. To tell y'all what it took me way to learn to learn.

I brought him every I went. Yeah, he stayed back in Louisiana and probably wasn't even thinking about me but I sure was thinking about him. Every time the phone rang I ran to it, hoping it was him. It wasn't. How could it be? I never even gave him the new number.

Every time the doorbell went off or the floor creaked, even the wind rustle through the leaves, please let it be him. Please. Every time no.

I guess you wanna know why if I wanted it to be him so much then why didn't we just stay together I bet you think it's because he dumped me huh Maybe for a new woman or maybe he went back to his wife or something like that. That's what you think? Well if I was you, I would be thinkin' the same thing.

Maybe you think that it ain't nobody else but it's something wrong with me. It don't matter what you think because it really ain't never nobody really. We want it to be though. Don't we? 'Cause moving on is always easier when it's somebody or something we can put our fingers on and say 'that right there, it's because of that.' That ain't real life though. Now, don't you look at me funny for tellin' you, but it ain't.

I thought from the day I met him that he was what they call, the one. My mama always said that I love too hard. That's what he said too. I love too hard. But I feel like when you love somebody you gotta with all of who you are. When you don't then you cheatin' them and you cheatin' you too.

Now before you go tryin' that for yourself you should know that it's some kinda big job, loving somebody real big like I useta love. 'Cause you know, maybe he won't like all that love you have to give. Men don't, you know. They don't like it all at once. They like it safe. I ain't so big on safe. Not me. See, with safe you only get safe. You ain't riskin' nothin'. You don't lose big you don't win big. What kinda love is that to have with a person? Not big not small. And they wonder why the divorce rate is so big.

As for me, each new time I set out to love bigger than I know love to be. Now, that's some real big love time after time. This time when it ended I didn't cut my hair. Women do that a lot you know. we cut our hair or start jogging or take up speaking another language or cooking or something like that. I used to tell myself it was because we need to find something to keep ourselves busy. But that's a lie. Really, we feel like there is something wrong with us as we was.

We keep thinking over and over that if we had just been doing whatever it is that we start doing when the relationship is over then it wouldn't be over. That they would still like us. They might even love us again.

No, this time I didn't cut my hair. That's what I usually do. I cut my hair and start working out a lot. Now maybe later I will and maybe later I won't. But I know I won't do nothin' till I'm clear in my head and in my heart that I'm already good enough right now.

Till then I won't do nothin' and won't blame nobody neither. Not even myself. That's what's wrong with the world. It's just too much blame. Women is all the time blaming a man for what her life look like and men do the very same thing. Oh they say they don't, but it's all the same ole pitiful song. You just gotta know what you lookin' and listenin' for.

I hear the women in the laudrymat yappin' all the time. Sometimes I say somethin' and sometimes I don't. Mostly they just sayin' how they whole life is somebody else fault. I wonder do they ever recognize that maybe they could stop lettin' somebody take control of they life and move on?

But we don't do that because we scared. I understand that. You think I ain't been scared I sure have. The women keep tellin' me that it ain't easy as just that. To just pick up and leave a situation, even when the situation ain't noways good for 'em.

I always tell 'em right back, did I say it was easy? No I did not. But it take bein' committed to a who new life and makin' that commitment bigger than you fear about it. That's what it all come down to. Don't just sit in mess and keep letting somebody mess in it. Change it.

But that's the work we don't wanna do. Yeah, we say we do, but you look around and see the world with you own two eyes don't you?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jungle musings - from Women in The Village

Today I heard a gunshot in the alley under my window
I am not wise to the makes and sizes of guns

I am a poet
An artist
A mother

Not just me
Somebody else hadta heard it too
It is three in the afternoon
A sunny day

These are the things that riot my headspace
When I endeavor to write about

My poems are little now
Perhaps someone's life has ended
But not one has missed a beat

At the liquor store
Crazy Melvin is begging for change
Rolanda the crackhead is selling pussy
In unit B, Demarco is smoking weed

The couple downstairs is making love
And I am listening because it is beautiful

I imagine she lies face downward
And grips the headboard tightfisted
While he is stroking inside of her

The cushion of her backside is
Rent paid

The fucking is good

I am never short of stories on Buckingham Road
An elegant name for a street with such drama
Even more ironic that it intersects King
Yesterday someone pissed in the hallway
The ice cream truck comes by after dark

Last October the brothas set off fireworks
For two and a half hours
Starting at one in the am

I would like to blame this on the white man

It is eleven pm and I am up writing
Because that is what I do

I am in search of the who of who I am
On this Saturday night in The Jungle
Where someone is being asked to dance
Bishop Collins is preparing his message
And Good Times don't come on local networks no more

Maybe Michael was too black too strong for TV
Thelma too gorgeous to be nappy and brown skinned
I surmise they killed off James because
White America couldn't handle a black man
Sticking with his family through bad times

I am writing

The musings and prophecies just come
Like Wednesday before last
The children were out front playing
Two boys and a girl on one side
Three boys to the other
A volleyball type game
Except there was one child in the middle

In my day
I am old enough to have a day
We called it keep away
Now, Monkey in the middle
This I believe I can blame on the white man

But life in the hood ain't always bad
Like on Fridays Hank the dealer buys
Books and balloons and toys and food
For the children who don't have very much

The grandmamas and granddaddies are addressed as
Ma'am and sir
The peace and sage sistas are queens and miss ladies
Little Andre carries the groceries for Mama Jerome
When her boy ain't around

But the splendor of moments like these and more
Are shadowed by my neighbor Claire
Getting the fuck beat out of her
By her boyfriend
I don't know his name

I am sorry that I cannot make her have a better life

Still, my mind wanders
I imagine The Jungle recalled Little Africa
Where all the business are black owned
The young sistas in training eagerly receive council
From the she elders on
Hoochie coochie
Fryin' chicken and
Bein' grown

While the he soldiers are
Braided, dashikied

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sugar's baby - from Women in The Village

I been waitin' forever and a day to tell my story. Guess you say this better be a good one huh? Well it ain't nothin', that's what it is. It's a story about my nothin'.

My Mercy sure was one pretty one, wasn't she? this is a picture I drew of her. It ain't all the way right on because I'm not a professional artist or nothin' like that, but you can still tell how pretty she was. She was only three days when she went on and left. I had her right here in this house. Right here. My sister helped me deliver her. We were in my own room on my very own bed. Buford was fightin' overseas and couldn't be here. But he was here. In his own quiet way. All my brothers and sisters came and waited in the living room for the baby to come. All of them, and me of course, and Mama. Daddy wasn't here because it was Sunday and he had to preach night service. It wasn't nothin' that was ever gon keep him from night service. He didn't even miss it the Sunday after he passed. He said the Lord told him He was gon take him away and to get the service together. So he wrote it down on a piece of paper and had my oldest living brother, Theodore read it to the crowd while his body was layin' right there.

I laid down on the bed after my water broke and Happy came in and took over. I just did everything she said. She said push and I pushed. She said breathe and that's what I did too. I guess it took about ten hours. But after it was over I didn't even remember the time. What time? I just held her in my arms. Rockin' back and forth singin' to her. I knew she was gon be a girl because Happy been dreamin' 'bout me havin' a girl. Happy even knew what she was gon look like and what she come here to do. New babies always come to see Happy. They always do. Happy even told me what to name her. Mercy. I pretty much do whatever Happy tell me and it so happen I like that name too. Mercy.

After Mercy came through, everybody came into the room with us and took turns holdin' her and kissin' all over her. Everybody except Rufus. Rufus didn't touch babies. Every since his own boy, Booty passed on in his arms. He stayed away from babies. It wasn't his fault or nothin' like that. The angels got ready for Booty to come home that's all. He came in the room though. Sat over in the corner wantin' to smile. Rufus never did smile much either. He wanted to though and that's what count. So, there was Marvin, JuniorBoy, Theodore, Rufus, Happy BabyGirl, Sister, Ruth, Amos, Paul, Simon, Ezra, Joseph and David, Esther, Nehemiah and Leviticus had passed on my then. I was the baby.

That was the happiest day of my whole life. Holdin' Mercy in my arms all night. I didn't even want to go to sleep. Happy told me to sleep when the baby was sleep so I could be well rested for her feedin'. I loved feedin' my baby. Seem like she knew better than I did. Mercy would wrap her little bitty lips around my nipple and go at it. All the way till she was full. Seem like she would drink all the milk from one breast and move herself over to the next.

Happy told me to go out Tuesday even to get some fresh air. I didn't want to fresh air. I just wanted to stay inside and kiss over Mercy. I did what she told me to do though. I went inth eback yard and sat on the tire swing Amos built. That was my dream place. I could stay out there all day and never know what time it was. I would swing on that swing and dream up some good ole dreams. That day I dreamed that Buford could be here with us and see Mercy. He wasnt' gon be able to come until the end of the week. Seem like that was takin' forever. I stopped daydreamin' long enough to hear Mama and Daddy in my room singin'. The didn't never sing together. The were barely in the same room together. Daddy was always in the back room workin' on his sermon for the next Sunday. That's what babies do though. The bring folks together. I was tired of swingin' and dreamin'. I wanted to feed my baby.

I went in the house and Daddy walked out as I was comin' in. He didn't say nothin'. But then he barely did say somethin'. I picked up mercy and there she was, just as beautiful as ever. It wasn't no baby born in this world as beautiful as mine. Mama heard me say that one time and she told me don't never say that again 'cause it was a disrespect to Baby Jesus. I guess so.

Happy told me to gon and lay down and take a nap. I told her I didn't feel like takin' no nap. I wanted to hold Mercy. Even if Mercy was sleepin' I just wanted to hold her and look at her while she slept. I could tell that Happy didn't want me to hold my own baby but she really couldn't say nothin'. She was my baby, not hers. She and Mama left the room no sayin' nothin' and I did what I wanted to do. I kinda started thinkin' that Happy was a little bit jealous of me for havin' my very own baby 'cause now she was the only one of us that didn't never have one yet.

I held Mercy for a real long time and she never did cry or fidget or nothin'. She just laid there. After a while Rufus walk in and took Mercy right out of my arms. Didn't say nothin'. Just took her and held her. I didn't say nothin' 'cause it ain't like Rufus to even hold a baby. I started to think about all the miracles Mercy was bringin' to the family already. Mama and Daddy singin' together. Bein' in the same room. Rufus pickin' up and holdin' a baby. He put his lips to her cheeks and started to cry. I did too. I guess he was rememberin' Booty.

It looked like Happy was right after all about me layin' down 'cause I shol did get real sleepy after that. I went on and took that nap. Guess I was even more tired than I thought because it was early the next morning when I woke up. I didn't see Mercy so I went to see who was huggin' and kissin' all over her. Seemed like I couldn't find nobody. Then I heard that ole piano playin' in the living room. I couldn't race in there fast enough! Didn't nobody play that piano and make it sound like that except for Buford! I stood there watchin' and listenin' to him. There he really was. So handsome. he looked at me and told me to come over and sit on the bench with him while he play.

"Where everybody at?" I don't know why I asked him like he should know.

"They out back gettin' ready. You gotto go get ready too."

"Get ready for what? I ain't goin' nowhere. Come on, baby. I got to show you yo very ver own baby girl. She the most beautiful baby ever been born in the world except for Baby Jesus. Where she at?" Then I went in Mama and Daddy's room and there she was. Sleepin' like an angel. Somebody had got her all dressed up for me. She had on all white with a little bonnet. I picked her up like I always do. She felt...heavy. The kinda heavy that just a few days cain't do to nobody. But what did I really know about babies? I kissed her and her skin felt like a doll skin. "She so soft, Buford. Ain't she just so pretty?"

Buford looked at her but he didn't want to hold her. Then Rufus came in and took her from and again. "Mercy gon on, Sugar. Get dressed and come on out back with us."

"Gon on? What you talkin' gon on?" I knew. But I didn't wanna know. Then I heard Mama and Daddy and all my livin' brothers and sisters at the far end of the yard singin' and I knew I couldn't not know no more. Mercy had her white dress on so I put my white dress on too. Buford had on his uniform and we walked out together. My Mercy didn't have no shoes on so I didn't put none on either.

They were there finishing up the song. Daddy was holdin' her over the hole about to pray. I didn't wanna pray. I didn't close my eyes or nothin' neither. I just looked at my Mercy one more time.

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 145 - Melt away

Fires burning in
my life today. I pray this
rain will put them out.