Root Work Journal - Convening in the Ark - Volume 1, Issue 1
Long Time Woman
Charlotte Watson Sherman
A prose poem written as response to a mother who went to Minneapolis to answer the call of the murder of George Floyd.
My name is Dionne Smith. I'm from Stockton, California. My son was murdered by two Stockton police and the sheriff. My son's name is James Rivera,16 years old, unarmed. He was executed a day before his 17th birthday.
Interviewer: Ms. Smith, what was it that brought you all the way from Stockton, California, here to Minneapolis, Minnesota?
When I heard the cry of Floyd, when he says, "Mama," and when I was watching the video, I had to watch it twice. And I said; I have to come because he had called for the mothers.
And the mothers shimmied into girdles and Spanx and the mothers fastened soft white brassieres and stroked stretch marks, battle scars from birthing their babies and the mothers slipped teeth into their mouth and the mothers glued eyelashes and the mothers combed hair and tugged wigs and feathered their edges and the mothers jumped to put on jeans and the mothers hummed and the mothers wailed and the mothers stuffed their fist inside their mouth and the mothers cried, "It's my child all over again."
And the mothers wiggle their hips and cha cha slide and the mothers Krumped and the mothers flailed their arms and the mothers shoes were tight as their resolve and the mothers tears the mothers tears turned
And the mothers poured out of call centers and the mothers filed out of high rises and the mothers left their shopping carts and cleaning supplies behind the masks and rubber gloves behind their wings and the mothers forgot he said she said and the mothers rolled shoulders and the mothers sucked teeth and the mothers sang a new song not quite the blues more like a war cry the mothers keening was more like the battle hymn of a destined republic
And the mothers poured out of tabernacles and the mothers streamed from mosques like bitter tears and the mothers clenched their teeth and the mothers loosened their jaw and the mothers abandoned tree pose and frog pose and jumped into Warrior II and the mothers jogged and the mothers double-dutched and the mothers picked up their paddleboards and stroked down the city's dying river away from the shrinking desert and swarming locusts the dialysis machines the chemotherapy drip and the mothers wore white and the mothers wore blue and the mothers bore the blood of their slaughtered lambs
And the mothers unfurled their canes and the mothers leaned on walkers and the mothers' bunions ached and they still
And the mothers' hearts were empty and full and the mothers were numb and the mothers were feverish and the mothers liked collard greens and cornbread and shrimp and grits and peppermint candies and the mothers were
And even the colorblind could see how much we love we love
and the mothers the church mothers with their fans and
the mothers with OnlyFans and the mothers say hold on
they say hold on
everything's gonna be all right
And the Magic City mothers and the chickenhead mothers
and all this good pussy mothers and the beehive mothers and the
savage mothers walk like they love somebody the mothers
walk like somebody loves them too and the mothers
walk with juju in their pocket and powdered glass and spit in cups
heavy metal and red lipstick as war paint 'cause this a marathon and
our mothers bodies the OG technology our mothers bodies the blueprint
And who fears Death?
The mothers got
the mothers got roots to work
the mothers got roots that work
and the mothers called down the BLACK gods
These are holy ghosts marching
you can't touch this
And ain't we hot
ain't the mothers
so black so hot
we on fire.