Posts Tagged ‘Sister Lou’

When de man
Calls out de ‘las train
You’re gonna ride,
Tell him howdy.

Gather up yo’ basket
And yo’ knittin’ and yo’ things,
An’ go on up an’ visit
Wid frien’ Jesus fo’ a spell.

Show Marfa
How to make yo’ greengrape jellies,
An’ give po’ Lazarus
A passel of them Golden Biscuits.

Scald some meal
Fo’ some rightdown good spoonbread
Fo’ li’l box-plunkin’ David.

An’ sit aroun’
An’ tell them Hebrew Chillen
All yo’ stories . . . .

Don’t be feared of them pearly gates,
Don’t go ‘around to de back,
No mo’ dataway
Not evah no mo’.

Let Michael tote yo’ burden
An yo’ pocketbook an’ evah thing
‘Cept yo’ Bible,
While Gabriel blows somp’n
Solemn but loudsome
On dat horn of his’n.

Go straight on to de Big House,
An’ speak to yo’ God
Widout no fear an’ tremblin’.

Then sit down
An’ pass de time of day awhile.

Give a good talkin’ to
To yo’ favorite ‘postle Peter,
An’ rub the po’ head
Of mixed-up Judas,
An’ joke awhile wid Jonah.

Then, when you gits de chance,
Always rememberin’ yo’ raisin’,
Let ’em know youse tired
Jest a mite tired.

Jesus will find yo’ bed fo’ you
Won’t no servant evah bother wid yo’ room.
Jesus will lead you
To a room wid windows
Openin’ on cherry trees an’ plum trees
Bloomin’ everlastin’.

An’ dat will be yours
Fo’ keeps.

Den take yo’ time . . .
Honey, take yo’ blessed time.

Sterling Brown
Collected Poems (1980)

*I read this poem in Inventions of Farewell: A Book of Elegies (2001) edited by Sandra Gilbert. Sandra Gilbert is an accomplished poet and academic writer … When I was a graduate student at UC Davis, she taught a seminar on elegy. I wanted to take it but didn’t. Now I have this book, which is, at the present time, far better than any seminar. This elegy by Sterling Brown is one of my absolute favorites in Gilbert’s collection. I will be teaching an advanced poetry workshop this fall, and in the week we write elegies, we will read this.

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