A Song for Emma ( Emma Lee Ford, 1919-2011) Author: Ivy Ford DeShield

Train/whistle/stop Train/whistle/stop
Miss Mary Mack – all dressed in black

Twenty-four buttons down her back
She asked her mother for fifty cents
To see the elephant jump the fence

The matriarchs of the community
Form a closed circle on the platform
As the first car pulls out of the station
Their vocals crescendo around us
A familiar song – a well-known hurt
This is not the first time they have
Gathered together and sounded in unison
Remembering one of their Beloved

Unlike most other folk
They have withstood the test of time
From nursery rhymes to soulful laments
Cornered between faith, ritual and rite
Horse-drawn buggies to sleek sedans
Leading mules and men – sunup to sundown
As one century meets the next

Old age is not cumbersome
To this group – when they look upon each other
The faded lines of youth linger still
And their memories ever so vivid
That they grieve impressively and wantonly
Clinging to each other as the caboose fades into the distance
Train/whistle/stop
Train/whistle/stop

Miss Mary Mack – all dressed in black
Twenty-four buttons down her back
She asked her mother for fifty cents
To see the elephant jump the fence
He jumped so high
He touched the sky
And never came back

As the minute hand will cease to tick
So the chime will silence on a scheduled hour
And like their Beloved
They will one day ride the rails to nirvana
But the matriarchs stand steadfast – together – against fate
Willing the world to push them beyond the edge
Before the whistle blows

The circle opens now as each of the women depart
Tradition will not allow them to speak of this day again
Nor will they turn for one last look
Their Beloved has jumped the fence
And will touch the sky
For all of eternity

Train

Whistle

Stop.

© ifd 2011. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this  author is strictly prohibited.

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