See Her

by Mwatabu S. Okantah

you've seen her.

see her in big,
black, scarred woman eyes.
always, you see it
in the eyes.

see her
early, on workdays,
waiting patiently, too
patiently, on the
bus, her bus,
the Short Hills bus.

see her,
black, big, African
looking woman;
feet flat flaunting years
stood upon; stiff starched
uniform white covering
knees gnarled
kneeling, scrubbing, scouring;
bones bent keeping
someone else's house clean.

see her,
each new day,
talk to her,

   Ma Beulah say, "Son, ya know,
   now ah bin workin'
   in whitefolks'kitchens
   mo'sa my life,
   an'ah was sayin'ta my missus
   jus'the otha'day,

   "Ah say to her,
   yall shouldn't oughta hate us,
   yall should love us,
   Lawd knows we could kill ya
   if we choosed.

   "We cooks yo'food,
   we suckles yo'chirren,
   we tends yo'houses,
   yall should jus'love us
   'cause it jus'aint right to hate,
   Jesus weren't like that,
   it just'aint right to hate.

   "An'ya know son,
   all she could do was
   look at me
   'cause she know it
   jus'weren't nuthin'left
   to say."

see her,
tired, trudging

see her,
know her in your eyes ...

              Ma Beulah Cook
              (1910-    )

See Her by Mwatabu S. Okantah

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