Mammy’s Cupboard

Mammy from Above (crop)Vested she stands across the way from The Big House.

Gestured in her place for three generations. A groom-less figurine bride. Wedded to the only South she ever knew. A place that left her bigness small; that colored her orange blue – along the road somewhere in the land of her betrothment. Not far from Natchez, Mississippi as a roadside luncheonette, she serves the memory of herself on a tray.

Black with salvation. Empty with promise. 

While she carries with grace the authority of Ma’am made small. A title of splintered affection marked with a name not her own. Painted in the shades of her affliction. Once dark as the night of her comfort. Now lightly atoned, never to pass beyond her birthright’s penance.

In red, white, and hues. 
Minded by worlds of twos.

Mammy. 
Monumentalized here.

To look backwardly over her master’s wont and her kin’s curse who together see for innocence to uphold a remembering readiness against the warmth she seals. Why she wears her horse-like charm on her ears, or the sanguine joy of her generation on her lips. Summoned with jagged brush strokes in colors she did not choose that ordered what was hers, once disarranged. As a cast for our nostalgia. To insulate our freedom from time. To mirror what she cannot see.

When all veneer from her is gone.
Without a cosmos on her face.

Without a dress so chaste.
Where to will she return?

To the vistas from where came the bricks that built her. As faint gallops of burdened beasts they sounded, stacked one upon the other. Born from sand and lime whose animal metal lays heavy around the earth. Made to be held one at a time with water before fired as stone. Labored with hand and mind as makers of place. These worlds within worlds of sun and moon chart her heavens as a brick house of constellations.

Shaped as sphere. Made without fold. Stitched voluminous with brick.

Is her skirt. A nave of culinary liturgies that invite communion with coconut pies, glazes of Muscadine, blueberry lemonade, and cakes of hummingbird. All varying fare sided with motely soups we become one with. Grown from the soil of magnolias she toils. As we forget inside her trough of sanctioned generosity, the dominion of these fodders she ploughs like a faithful mule.

Hungry
nevermore,
innocent and warm,
hollow,
as when we go.
Nothing again.
Empty as before.

Mammy.

A humble testament to daily bread is left of you along the road. Where the common place finds its glory – in a cupboard. A store of gravity that weighs against our better judgment. For the more we look, the less we know. To renounce you, our saving grace, as a place maker of fraught curiosities. Across the way from a big house in Natchez, Mississippi.

Candice Jansen