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Miss LeReba’s hands were / blacksmith tempered, / One more whisper

blaspheming heifer  / They all thought  / hot potatoes had her cryin’



Miss LeReba’s Potato Salad


                                         By Paula M. Patton-Ross


Flarin’ nostrils and flask in hand

Her countenance rough


She was rough


With her one good eye


The church sistah’s

be wonderin’


Her voice was so harsh


Would it ever fall?

(the flask, not the mask)

One kept the other going

As a child I knew which

to address.


Just before a ‘Sunday Summer Picinic’

she’d let me choose

the tools she’d mix with

tuckin’ that flask in her African purse

burrowing pass the Blessed


12 bodies in the basement kitchen

Miss LeReba was at least 4 of them

I’d take back seat

to the ssssssss’s and whisps

watching the Alpha incite the Omega’s


Miss LeReba was none of those

Just in the corner

peelin’ her potata’s


I could count to twenty,

(and it was so funny)

Before the Reverend Nina Mary Gardner

came down the stairs


The Alpha would transform

back into the Plumbers Wife

and the Omega’s cue

was to ask for prayer…


“Yes Lawd. 

Thank you,

Hallelujah (jerk)

Father Gawd”

First ‘amens’ came with sighin’


Miss LeReba’s hands were

blacksmith tempered,

One more whisper

blaspheming heifer

They all thought

hot potatoes had her cryin’


There in the kitchen

beside the stove

Donated by the Women's Auxillary


The crazy eye peeled potatoes

while the good one

was lent

to beauty


It filtered in

through the window shade

and cast a hue

so auspicious


A breeze flapped

presenting sun filtered

through the trees

She’d shake her head

“My Gracious, Gracious, Gracious”


Inside that quiet time

(during the ceremony of her death)

“God has been


good to me…


I used to look

for a visit from Love



I’d look for that,

then I’d look at me.


Plenty of time stood

between that wish

Till I figured

it didn’t matter


so I began stirrin’ pots,

mixin’ bowls

julienne vegetables

peelin’ potatoes

and making salad.


I like to think

I was still


first His Voice got me scared.


You shoulda seen me

I’d stir a ‘lil’ faster

chopped a ‘lil’ harder

all the time something powerful

was becoming

crystal clear

You know love…

could come from many places

In between

Ya smitten by

many faces

but this earth wont’ last long enough

and that kinda love leaves too.


But whatcha find


which outlives time

Is lovin’ them

what don’t want nothing

to do with you.


No victory prayers

Be still use your ears

Use your eyes, your heart

Try to take ya mind higher


In the midst

(wink) You’ll find out

A joyful tear

tryin to slide out


just when you feel weary

and bout ready tired.”


I joined her in the kitchen

she winked with the good

clapped her hands

“I told you

it was

my birthmark,

Here taste!”


I walked into the spoon

letting it glide into my mouth

Adoring the grin on her face.


It wasn’t the ‘kudos’

from the Pastor, the Mayor

or the congregation that completed

the smile


It was the hot hand peeling

which gave her the quickening

Reaffirming God’s Love to His

‘Favored’ child.

Source: Tell Me Where The Trees Find Shelter? 

Paula Marguerite Patton-Ross ( b. 1955)  is a new ‘poetic engineer’ emerging onto the literary scene with her latest child of passion “Tell Me Where The Trees Find Shelter?”.  The author was born in Elizabeth New Jersey.  Having been environed and socialized by the ‘vietnam war’, and the struggles for “black equality” her conclusion “love is under-emphasized” has been the rationale for her picking up pen and paper.  Her writings are empathetic “spirit identifies with spirit” with deliberative words she makes plain her emotions, equalizing and linking them to those of her readers, a connecting- the -dots for the nature in all of us that internalizes.

Married to her husband of 32 years and mother of six (which she refers to as 4 rivers and 2 streams) she lives a quiet life on a ranch in Tonopah Arizona.  “I can see the stars now… and they tell me of…things.” The writer fills her days with writing.  She says “I write, and I write and when I can take a break, I write and if I get the time to… I write.

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Ancient African Nations

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update 26 March 2012




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Related files: Miss La Reba Potato's Salad   Tell Me Where  AfterGlow