Missouri Moses

By Toyosi Begbaaji

Our mother waded
through, rags floating up
right at her waist like
Victorian gowns.

She held us up above
the water, lips moving
around silent prayers,
around silent pleading.

Not mah babies. You
ain’t gettin’ mah babies.

Our mother shivered
as she crossed that Great
Mississippi, boat
in sight, arms trembling.

She cast a glance back at
the sounds of shouting and
cursing and whooping, the
sounds of dogs and white men.

Not mah babies. You
ain’t gettin’ mah babies.

She once
told us of Moses,
sent adrift by ​his​ own
mother. Found, soon, in
Egypt.

Not mah babies. You
ain’t gettin’ 
​mah​ babies.

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