Home Goin'
(for Ilene Burrell
New Orleans, Louisiana)

by Veretta C. Woodward


February 1978, p. 119-21

 

'Lene talks 'bout goin' home
to "Naw-lins"
and
somehow
I jus' know
I've been there before.

Thru her eyes
I've seen Niggertown
Hollygrove
Pension Town
and James Alley.
And those ole houses
in the country
covered with patches of tin on the outside
and sheets of newspaper on the inside
ain't hardly no stranger to me.

Say,
were you the sister
that I used to make
those Blue Ribbon
sun-baked mud pies with?

My spirit walked hand-in-hand
with hers
through the Seventh Ward
and longed for jet black,
long, thick, straight
gleaming hair,
and wished like all hell
that we were pretty and cute
like those Creole girls
our men were chasin'.

We ate heaps and heaps
of spicy gumbo
filled to the brim
with fresh crabs
shrimps
chicken
and Moma's love.

We knew much better
than not to believe
in voodoo,
'cause we knew
that voodoo do not play.

And late at night
from way over in the French Quarters,
the uninvited moans and screams
of ghost-slaves being battered and beaten
being battered and beaten
pierced our hands
as we tried to cover our ears....
(Yeah...we still got scars to prove it.)

And Moma was Daddy
and Brother was Daddy
and Sister was friend
and 'Lene was me
and I was her
'cause Portsmouth, Virginia, is right 'round the corner
from "Naw-lins."

    

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