Stand with You.

A Mother stood in public
With Her kids in tow.
She tried Her best to line them up
All in a row.
They were rowdy, wonderful kids,
One of them even wore a bow.

he stood up.
A tall, strong, black man stood up.

No one noticed,
Very few cared.
People stand,
It’s what they do.

“Take my seat,” he motioned to Her.
“No. Thank you.” She replied.
But he couldn’t sit back down.
he insisted. And She refused and refused.

he spoke to Her daughter, the one with the bow,
“Seat’s all yours.”
The Mother spoke in another tongue,
Presumably saying something about not taking the seat.

So, the black young man, not yet twenty, stood.
Then, he left.
Then, She sat.
Then, from a little distance away, he smiled.

he didn’t smile because he got his way.
he didn’t smile because She did what he wanted Her to.
he smiled because he understood perfectly.

You see, where he’s from
The Mother is the most important piece.
A black Mother possesses an air of rarified dignity.
It’s simple. She’s never wrong.

But also, where he’s from
A Mother of little children is respected.
Because that Mother was once his Mother.
his Mother had to stand for hours with him on Her back.
his Mother had to walk miles with him in Her mind,
Having no refuge from Her newfound responsibility.

his Mother had to carry the burden of a child in the Womb
And carry the burden of the child after it.

he understood that
If a Mother stands,
no one else must sit.
he understood Her sacrifice.
he understood Her pride.
he understood the truth of a good Man
At such a young age.

he understood that
If You stand, we must all stand

With You.

Questions and Answers

How/where do you find inspiration today?

In the world. A word or a moment can easily spark a write-up. First, I write as though I had an audience of one, be it a friend, myself, etc. For instance, in the poem, “Stand with You,” I imagined I was writing to my mother. I actually was. At that time, other opinions mattered not. Only after I was done writing would I share, reread, review, and edit my poem with people who would tell me the truth about it. Even as I edited, observations and things I’d learned could further impact the poem’s structure and content. I turn to poetry when I really need to document my emotions, life, world, or any conceivable thing. In essence, I find inspiration everywhere.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?
  1. A mother I observed at the bus stop marshalling four kids. In my eyes, she deserved praise.
  2. My own mum. She’s pretty inspiring.
  3. My culture. Mothers are a big piece of it.

This poem “Stand with You.” originally appeared in Sensing Different Worlds Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 244 (2021): 103-105.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.