Fabu Meets Mary Lou*

If I met you today
a regular Wisconsin morning
full of pearl grey light
and frigid white hills of snow
I’d “yes mam you” Ms. Mary Lou,
bring you out of the cold
and warm you with my smile.
You’d growl, “I am Mary Lou Williams,
don’t mam me”
like a no-nonsense Jazz woman, yet
I’d want to curl up against your right side
take your stretched out chocolate fingers
worn thin from reaching piano keys
and hold them carefully like fine china
intertwine them with my short fingers
quick to write and type.
I would murmur in your hearing ear
“I am an artist too.”
You’d turn and look at me directly
sizing me up.
I’d start again, “I’m a Poet raised on Jazz.
I discovered you and your music a short while ago.”
Maybe then Ms. Mary Lou, you would really see me.
Maybe you’d pause and hear all I meant
that was left unsaid but running swiftly
underneath my words.
Maybe I could lean against your shoulder and weep
while you comforted me.
It is still too hard
to be a Black woman artist in America.

*Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) was a Jazz arranger, composer and pianist whose career spanned six decades of Jazz.  She was a child prodigy and a Jazz genius who has largely been forgotten.