“Big Mama” by Sharon Smith


Each step closer
I could hear
Choo-Choo…Choo-Choo
Big Mama said, “Let’s hurry”
A brisk walk or a scurry
I cannot really remember
But the blasted inferno
In front of my eyes
Belched steam or so I thought
I had only seen trains on TV
The power of force
Built up inch by inch
In the great belching machine
It began to move forward
By leaps and bounds
We sat on the train
Big Mama, me, and Brother Ronald
Brother Ronald did not say much
But he did smile for a while
Big Mama shook her finger
Telling us to be on your best behavior
Cause you are the only two
Black children on this train
So I guess Brother Ronald understood
The virtues of solitude then
We traveled forever it seemed
Three days until we reached Kalamazoo
All the while big Mama smiled
Uttering the same comforting words
“We will be there in a short while
Just lean on me little children
A short while to go”
I can remember calling
“Big Mama, Big Mama
Is this real, what I see
Out of the window
Cows and horses just like on TV?”
The train kept moving on the tracks
I fell asleep in my Big Mama’s arms
When I awoke, we had arrived
Big Mama said, “Come on children
Let us go enjoy a while, let us go enjoy”
Big Mama slowly walked, leaning
Side to side carrying heavy bags
Pulling her east to west
Like a bobbin in the wind
Her swollen ankles peeked
Out of each of her shoes
The felt hat she wore
Pulled over her left ear
With a long curved feather
Caressed by the north wind
Big Mama’s long black hair
Dangled at her shoulders
Big Mama said, “Hurry Ronald
Before the rain comes
We will be at Katy’s farm
Before the morn’s dawn”
Big Mama’s step quickened
You could hear the rustle of her
Garments in her hastened
Movement carrying the load
And calling me and Brother Ronald
“Come on little children
Let us go enjoy awhile”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Smith is a graduate of Metropolitan Vocational and Career College in Long Beach, California.