“still like life, i rise”
—maya angelou (april 4, 1928-may 28, 2014)
© 2014 omowale-kétu oladuwa
there is no apt word when your mother leaves.
she’s been there bracing your back so long
her absence is tidal, a tsunami
breaking on a flimsy eastern shore
like cool damp days in autumn, when leaves have fallen
and color is fast fading.
“with the certainty of tides”
tho pensive in the throe of death
her lafter and the wit of her, the cocoa brown eyes
and touch of arkansas.
the giving spirit that knew death but never knew a vacant day.
the powerlifting throat of wisdom
that raised the faint heart
and stilled a child’s fear.
mother was all woman
a once-caged bird that sang
she danced in hotspots
and served as prostitute and madam in dives
to make her spirit manifest.
magnificently brilliant, sleeves rolled up
lilting lady on the frontline.
maya angelou of generations past,
present, and yet to come. no ingénue, no longer mute.
like the malcolm and martin
you knew so well, you will never leave us.
in your dizzying flights of stardom
poeting and advising presidents and savants
none could ever mean as much to us as your stand
on the frontline for justice and human dignity,
or straight talk in low-lite hallways
on 16th street, and in the alley with the thug of us.
thank you mother-sister-daughter-auntie-woman,
poet, jelimuso, keeper of the truth and flame of us.
you threw open the caged door
and sang, and we will never, again, let another
swing shut on us.