After Langston Hughes, Mother to Son

I. Mother to Daughter

Well, daughter, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been a life at all.
It’s had bullets in it,
And bullies,
And haters,
And places with no carpet on the floor –
And all the time
I’m breathing
And cursing the sky
And wondering why women like
Us don’t get saved.
There ain’t no light.
Just black girls gettin’ snatched
In the dark
Ain’t nobody savin’ us.
So girl, save yourself first.
Don’t you turn back.
I’m telling you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
Life for me ain’t been a life at all.
But I’m still goin’, honey.

II. Daughter to Mother

Well, mother, I don’t know where I exist in this life.
I’ve learned that life is what we make it,
Plus black skin.
It’s had it’s tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a
Finished home, or floors with carpet.
You taught me to always keep going.
My mother, of honey and hue
And magic that men
Don’t seem to understand.
Life for us will never be a crystal stair.
But we’ll build our own houses.