Bangles and Colorful Cloth for Ma


Bangles and Colorful Cloth for Ma

“A poem based on fact dedicated to my Chickasaw Great-Grandmother”

When I was born, you were a young ninety-years old,

your hair pulled tight at the nap of your neck, still black

and bold. At night, you let it down to braid before you

went to bed, it fell to the floor; at first I would watch in

silence from the crack in the door.

The night you caught me peaking through your bedroom

door, I was six, you called me into the room smiling…

asking that I bring you a single broomstick. I quickly plucked

it from mother’s only broom, and rushed back into the dimly

lit room. You showed me how to break it into small pieces;

I looked bewildered your smile accenting all of your dark

wrinkles and creases.

It was then that my eyes opened wide as you put the stick

right through the lob of your ears, its magic I thought; this is

my great-grandmother I have nothing to fear. As a child,

I did not realize that there was a hole, because when I would

touch the bangles on your ears, you would quickly scold.

Just like the time when I tried to sneak a peek at your button

up shoes by raising the hem of your long dress, and you did

not have on shoes, there were moccasins on those tiny feet…

who would have guessed. Yes, I was only a child without a

care, and I spent many hours sitting at the foot of “Ma’s”

old rocking chair.

I never tired of the stories that she would tell, sometimes we

cried together and now I can say it…as a child she lived in a

white man’s world, she called it “hell”. Her parents had walked

on the “Trail of Tears”, proud and strong, with every step

wondering where they had gone wrong.

She helped raise me and she taught me the way, and in those

later years, I was sad when she would tell her stories; she

remembered only the bad. This grand old woman dressed in

bangles and cloths of many colors, with that big ball of hair at the

nap of her neck was a great-grandmother like no other.

She died only days before her birthday; she would have been

one-hundred and five, my daddy said, Ma would say when I die…

do not cry. I was fifteen-years old and the world was bright and

colorful with the artwork of fall, a befitting day to bury this beautiful

and proud Chickasaw.


Author: Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

Artist/Writer of Fiction, Poetry, Prose and Thoughts, Opinions Author Bio Born in Alabama to a Native American (Chickasaw) father and an emotionally absent mother since birth, raised by father, a Native American great-grandmother and an African-American woman whom were all grand storytellers. As early, as four years old, I was roaming the countryside around our home alone or with my father; in the evenings I sat at the feet of these strong-minded individuals listening to the stories of their lives. Summers I lived with my fathers' sister in Birmingham, Alabama; it was she that would help to discover a library, and mingle with my aunt's circle of friends that included local writers, artist, and politicians. A cabin deep within the Black Warrior Forest was also my playground on weekends. My aunt encouraged my imagination by introducing me to journaling, which I filled Big Chief Tablets with stories over the summer. Planted was the desire to write, a seedling waiting to spurt from the warm southern heart of a child. Nonetheless, with adulthood, the desire to write buried itself deep within, the dream wilted but did not die. It laid dormant, gaining experiences. These experiences became short stories and poetry ready to share with anyone who would want to read them. I began painting as a child and later as an adult, and then it lay dormant for years. I write of many life experiences in poetry format; questioning everything from Mother Nature to God...the poetry is raw, sometimes dark and may not be understood by all. Yet, it comes from deep within and reads of truth within my soul. The harshness that shrouded my life would cause me to withdraw from most of the world; it fills the pages of my writing, the heartache, the abuse, and the denial of a mother, all frankly portrayed. Today, I enjoy my children, grand and great grandchildren, my four-legged companion Mason, I live in Southern Wisconsin...far from my southern roots; however, I continue to write and paint almost daily. Below are the books that I have published in paperbacks at, under the name of Ann Johnson-Murphree: Book #1 Echoing Images from the Soul 2012 Book #2 Beyond the Voices 2012 Book #3 Reflections of Poetry 2013 Book #4 Honeysuckle Memories 2013 Book #5 Sachets of Poetry on Adoration, Anger, Asylums and Aspirations 2014 Book #6 My Journey into Art 2014 Book #7 Fragments of Time 2017 Book #8 Rutted Roads 2016 Book #9 Asterial Thoughts 2017 Book #10 Flying with Broken Wings 2017

9 thoughts on “Bangles and Colorful Cloth for Ma”

  1. This reminds me of my great grandmother. We called her Ma Doody. She was part Indian, but I don’t know what tribe. When I got the chicken pox at about five or six years old, they took me to her house where she put a herbal concoction on my chest. She was about ninety years old when I was born and died ten years later. Thank you for sharing this with me. Fond memories.

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