Bangles and Colorful Cloth for Ma
“A poem based on fact dedicated to my Chickasaw Great-Grandmother”
When I was born, you were a young ninety-years old,
your hair pulled tight at the nap of your neck, still black
and bold. At night, you let it down to braid before you
went to bed, it fell to the floor; at first I would watch in
silence from the crack in the door.
The night you caught me peaking through your bedroom
door, I was six, you called me into the room smiling…
asking that I bring you a single broomstick. I quickly plucked
it from mother’s only broom, and rushed back into the dimly
lit room. You showed me how to break it into small pieces;
I looked bewildered your smile accenting all of your dark
wrinkles and creases.
It was then that my eyes opened wide as you put the stick
right through the lob of your ears, its magic I thought; this is
my great-grandmother I have nothing to fear. As a child,
I did not realize that there was a hole, because when I would
touch the bangles on your ears, you would quickly scold.
Just like the time when I tried to sneak a peek at your button
up shoes by raising the hem of your long dress, and you did
not have on shoes, there were moccasins on those tiny feet…
who would have guessed. Yes, I was only a child without a
care, and I spent many hours sitting at the foot of “Ma’s”
old rocking chair.
I never tired of the stories that she would tell, sometimes we
cried together and now I can say it…as a child she lived in a
white man’s world, she called it “hell”. Her parents had walked
on the “Trail of Tears”, proud and strong, with every step
wondering where they had gone wrong.
She helped raise me and she taught me the way, and in those
later years, I was sad when she would tell her stories; she
remembered only the bad. This grand old woman dressed in
bangles and cloths of many colors, with that big ball of hair at the
nap of her neck was a great-grandmother like no other.
She died only days before her birthday; she would have been
one-hundred and five, my daddy said, Ma would say when I die…
do not cry. I was fifteen-years old and the world was bright and
colorful with the artwork of fall, a befitting day to bury this beautiful
and proud Chickasaw.