Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Hoodoo Moma" by Luisah Teish

Wooden stairs scrubbed with red brick
Holy water sprinkled on the floor
St. Michael slays that old demon
behind the front door.
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" she cries,
"C'mon in here and sit down"
coffee is sipped from a demitasse cup
in my moma's part of town.
"Don't cross yo' legs at de table.
"Beware the cook dat don't eat.
"Mind ya' home training for company
"Don't dare sweep dat 'oman's feet!"
A frizzy is running outside
scratching up gri-gri. Rattlesnake skins
and mudbug fins 'round a blue plate of congris.
Back yonder in da burning barrel, there's
sulphur and rags aflame. Wrapped in red thread
up under it, nine times, she's writ somebody's name.
B'yond the fence, things a-growing: cow greens, milkweed, and
Devil's bread. Sunday mornin' she's stiff starched and
Catholic; altar night-white rag on her head.
Ask the woman where she's going, or dare to ask her
where she's been. You'll find blueing water
on ya doorstep, and ya breathin' dis-eased by the wind.
Being as how I'm her daughter, I dared to ask her one time
"Moma, you know about Hoodoo?"
"Child, ya must be outta ya mind.
Who don't hear death rattle, Or know howta talk wid a frog?
Common sense is what de Lawd give ya. There's prophecy in the
bark of a dog."

One of my favorite poems by one of the most influential writers in my life, Luisah Teish.

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