Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ms. Matty

Her name was
Matilda Sinclair.
Her skin was the colour
Of coals, her hair
Was a briar patch
Of gray and silver strands
And life had left
It's mark on her face
Which had hardened
Into a scowl.

The black folk and
The white folk alike
Called her Ms. Matty
And called upon her
They did, although
Proper folk would never
Admit that they sought
Help from the old Negro woman
Who lived in the woods
Behind the Johnson estate.

Black folk had no problem
Saying that Ms. Matty
Was the midwife that helped
Birth all their babies,
But the mayor of
The quiet, little town
Would never admit that
He had summoned
The old Negro woman when
His son was sick with
An illness that Doc Carter
Could not cure.

The fine ladies who sipped tea
At the Beauchamp's spoke
Of everything except how
Ms. Matty helped with
Some illness, some spell
Or some unspeakable act
That will forever go unsaid.

But when the ire of
The ill advised white folk
Rose up like some great wave
And the idea of lynching
Came to many a mind,
Not one man dared
To seek out Ms. Matty,
Blaming her for his problems
And finding reason to
Lynch the "nigger witch".

The good folk, both
Black and white
Would have none of that
And would rather kill
Said man than have him
Kill Ms. Matty.
And if a fool did try
To tie a noose in her presence,
Ms. Matty was prepared
To introduce him to
The Devil himself.

Her name was
Matilda Sinclair.
Her skin was the colour
Of coals, her hair
Was a briar patch
Of gray and silver strands
And she was the keeper
Of secrets.


Brian Miller said...

wow that is some fine story telling verse....enjoyed it and great job coming back to the description there at the end...

Claudia said...

oh wow...really like this...skillfully told and you took us right into the heart of the story and beyond...and the ending is just perfect..the keeper of secrets...

bajanpoet said...

You are an excellent story-teller ... a modern day Griot... your verse is so riveting ... so awesome :)

Ostensible Truth said...

what a curious story here! and so well told, I was captivated from the start, the keeper of secrets indeed, I think it goes to the heart of many things though - how the 'exception' to the rule is nearly always based on self-interest - nicely told! I enjoyed!

Kathy Bischoping said...

I like this super-much!!! The little details, the names chosen, all give a direct strong sense of time and place. The way the poem turns from character sketch to a mystery is really exciting.

I'm a little puzzled by the mystery though, and by that I don't mean I want it all spelled out, but, here goes... In the stanza beginning "But when the ire of", the antagonist is either (1) the many ill-advised white folk (ill-advised by Matilda?) or (2) the many white folk ill-advised in the hateful tenor of the times -- in any case, multiple people, of whom no one dares propose lynching her -- and it seems especially it's men who might consider this. The next stanza, though, focuses on "said man" and "him", a singular individual?

Kimolisa said...

Thanks for the great feedback. @Kathy, thanks for pointing out the confusion. When I wrote it, the anger that arose was more something outside of Ms. Matty's community and it was something that was from other towns. Sometimes that anger would affect one or two people in the community or someone coming from outside and that person would not understand the importance of Ms. Matty in her community. So although many people might have anger in them, only one person would actually try something against someone like Ms. Matty. I hope that makes sense.

Sheila Moore said...

holy crap! I literally have the chills. what a great story and the ending line is perfect!

nIx said...

You are an awesome story teller!