Mother Maya {EXCERPT}

Last summer we lost our mother.

The village that birthed our mother will never again possess the silhouette that she described to us.  The body of it is now bloated, the heart of it is corroded, and the broad shoulders that once carried the weight of many men had lost its vigor.  The spirit has weakened, the artists have migrated to Brooklyn, and gentrification has proved as merciless as genocide.  But we still flocked there, yearning to taste a drop of its diluted flavor and we seek the elders so that we can sit at their feet on Sundays and hear stories about how Mother would dance freely down the boulevard, laughing impulsively and greeting everyone with her southern charm.  We moved to the village seeking her, so that we too can be transformed from girls to women.  Maybe if we look up, clinch our eyes tightly, and breathe in deeply, we can embody the confidence that she possessed.  

    In the wake of Ferguson and continued police brutality, we consider our Mother, and contemplate what she might do in these dark times.  Our village is filled with rage, sorrow, helplessness, and protests.  But who will lead us now?  There is no more SCLC where Mother worked alongside Dr. King.  It seems everyday now is coated in a dense gray fog and we struggle to distinguish night from day.  The rose garden is now an abandoned graveyard covered in thorns and as the solemn leaves surrender to their fated demise, painting the parks auburn orange, we realize that we are amid a new season.  



“Carefully, the leaves of autumn sprinkle down

the tinny sound of little dyings

and skies sated of ruddy sunsets of roseate dawns

roil ceaselessly in cobweb greys

and turn to black for comfort.”                

(Late October)

    Mother was gone now, and she left us with all of the tools we needed to carry on and extend her path, but just like an ungrateful child, we wanted more.  She left us an outline to fill that covered all the corners of life.  Selflessly, she lived so that she could share.  As a result, when declaring that anything is possible, she could stare firmly into our souls, and annunciate each syllable with sincerity.

    Mother told us to write.  She introduced us to ourselves when we were rejecting our reflections.  We had not yet perceived the praying grandmother that we called Mama, splitting peas at the big table, or our instinctual recollection of church hymns as a part of our culture. She had the courage to share what many of us encounter in our homes but are ashamed to think of, let alone recite aloud for the world to hear.  Mother taught us the history of the unjust segregated south as we sat with her words in cozy corners of public libraries surrounded by faces of varying color; and we feel in more ways than one, that she contributed to our advancement.  Although she was a fervent Christian, she permitted us the freedom to explore religion with a dubious eye.  She told us to be inquisitive when everything around us aspired to muffle our voices.  

And amidst the far too frequent grueling occasion, when we must bear our children alone in desperate attempts to raise men, she showed us this too could be done shamelessly and without restriction.  She introduced us to Africa.  We had never considered ourselves African, while simultaneously feeling ourselves inadequately American.  Mother told us of her time in Morocco, Accra, and Johannesburg, and we became adrenalized at the thought of visiting the land of infinite black faces.