Jane Therese

My mother was a white woman
but a woman, all the same.

For years, 
I never thought much 
of white women
In fact, I didn’t think of them much.

In my mind’s eye, she was nothing.
A dusty trophy piece, 
never savoring the 
bitter flavorings of grief.

Placed on a Victorian mantle, 
atop a fireplace seldom used.

Silently worshipped
from big house 
to old slave shack...
never knowing abuse, 
the suffering of Blacks

...and so went my Negro creed
“Anything without pain, 
has got no need to be freed.”

My mother was a white woman
but a woman, all the same.

When I was a little Black girl
Ghetto orthodox
pumping through my veins, 
She would wait, 
gift in hand, 
smile stretching

across the milky skin of her face, 
As animated as my unease.

The fear of kids seeing us
invaded my senses
leaving no place
for love, 
a touch, 
a kiss, 
a mother-daughter’s embrace
on this her once a week visiting day...

would have confirmed the truth
of the Devil in my blood

But to her, 
I was nothing
nothing
nothing less
than her 
“Sweet, Black, Baby Girl” 

The jewel of her emerald eye.

A manifested promise of a time
passion was as sweet, 
as the wine she drank
to numb her.

Old history, 
when my missing father, 
so tall, so fine, so rich in soul, 
so very black...

Kissed her gently and 
darlingly loved her back.

My mother was a white woman
but a woman, all the same.

I hardly cared or noticed
The men who steadily came
To beat her down 
and kill her slowly
to ease their wretched shame.

Too weak to fight, 
too afraid to let me stay, 
she packed up her black baby girl
and sent me safely away.
I never saw the pedestal, 

you see? 

crumble beneath her calloused feet.

Never heard the taboo drums
resounding through
the hopeless song she played 
for every black man she would meet

“Buffalo soldier, I am the land of America! 
Come, rest your weary feet in me! ”

They answered her call.
One after the next.
Each bigger, blacker, 
angrier than the one before.

They spoke in an ancient tongue
she tried to interpret with her body, 
giving her very best, 
but still they needed more.

Pain, grown bitter with time, 
spilled like the wine she drank
to numb her...
in a flurry of fists, 
until there was nothing left.

My mother was a white woman
but a woman all the same.

How the pain does grow, 
when death is slow.
The sunlight’s glow
simmering
her uncloaked body’s vapors.

Crimson wetness trailing, 
like the dead end roads she had taken, 

from all her open places.

Maimed, 
3 days 
abandoned
and unclaimed.

My mother was a white woman
but a woman all the same...

Now that I’m ready 
to love her
accept her, and proudly
wear her name...

Where is my Momma? 
Where is Jane Therese? 

Dead, 
standing 
in an unmarked grave

by Jessica Holter 

This poem is about: 
My family
Our world

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