in his words…how my grandfather remembered his mother

my father‘s father was an orphan. his mother died when he was only 3 years old. he was raised by his uncle and his wife. he was born in 1919 and his life was unimaginable. he was schooled until the 3rd grade and then sent into the coal mines to work. he used to tell me stories of being beaten by his aunt. he used to share stories of how he learned to take care of his younger cousins. they used to tell me stories of how hard he worked to provide for them, long before he ever married my grandmother and they ever began their own family of six strapping boys. my father’s father was a man’s man. he was unapologetically in love with his wife and mad about his children, from the oldest to the last. he was a hero of mine; most likely one of the only superheroes i will ever know. i could write and talk about him for days on end. today, as i think on survival i consider his words and how much he intended his life to be a living memorial for the young woman he never knew…


if she had lived
they say she
would have been
beautiful half
black half
indian half
poor half

if she had
lived they say
she would have been
beautiful but she
was killed before i
learned to speak

my memories don’t
know her my
children ask often for
pieces of who she was
i point to
wrinkled pictures reaching
with them toward a past
as disfigured as

i tell them
they say she
would have been
beautiful if only
she had lived

if only
you had lived.

reprinted with permission from if glory wore a hat she would wear feathers poems by wanda olugbala copyright 1997.

One Comment Add yours

  1. christiana83 says:

    This is beautiful, what an insiring man!

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