5/2/00 9:04am (I scrambled around and found a Louise poem!)
Black sagging saint encircles my heart
even on the day the phone rang
and Momma told me she was dead.
So we baked a cake for some fifty-two grandchildren.
Sugar diabetes ate her liver after it ate her toes.
“Lord, she hass fallen off for de las’ time”
and is lying in the bowels of the hospital now.
Waiting for the coroner. Waiting for her doctors to finally release her.
Frying chicken and gizzards in her white ironed apron.
Sneaking, peaking and picking that chicken when she
wasn’t looking. Dipping snuff, spitting quietly in her
jar when our faces were turned
so that it “ditten happen, not really and all.”
Sail back moments with us when
we first met, tripping down that
dead end street, named Barker.
Louise sweet talk me, bind my wounds.
Bend over, roll me into your bosom, smother my knocks
and red ribboned knees. Plait my head.
Lay me up and smooth my rustling petticoats,
wrap my braces so my legs don’t curl.
Stop me, even when I run too fast and fall.
Falling hard on that dead end road, chasing her,
forever trying to catch her and her sweet, sweet face,
her dark lit love.
Remember? I was always running too fast and falling,
and you, you were always trying to slow my running down,
make my falling light. Pick us up out of the dust
and make our dwelling safe. Who will mend
my skint knees now? Cradle my broken limbs?
Where do our hearts beat if not together?
We are redeeming her out of the dust returned.
Wringing our hands in her fettered soul.
Lives grow and my children’s lines ever remain
in her shadow, leaning over my shoulder.
Still her holy ghost rocks me each night.
Float moon rays, cross the railroad tracks,
illumine the upturned earth of the new grave in the cemetery,
Repent and shed sorrow for fifty-two grandchildren
and a little white girl with scabby knees.
Julia W. Burns, MD
to Edna L. Faulk-mother