When Mae Ella Died – A Story Poem

Another installment of   Friday Fictioneers  hosted by Rochelle.  100 words or so based on the image below. Click on the link (after this piece) and come join us!

Thank you for this photograph, Rochelle, and the chance to write these words.

***I’ve changed this (two words worth) a bit since it first went up.  This piece still doesn’t feel done to me…I’m going to keep it up, though. That’s just the way it goes sometimes…***


When Mae Ella Died

In the end, I couldn’t believe it.
The package arrived
the day after we lost father

the day before …
the day before…what mattered?
Then died my Mammy.  The only true mother
I’d ever known.

This evening
in the center of the enclave
we remembered her
my sisters and my brothers
my mother and I.

I brought forth the package
sent by my Mammy.
nestled in the softest strands of silk
laid our father’s baby locks.

Everybody smiled.
Everybody cried.
Everybody drank a little bit.


photo prompt ©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

36 thoughts on “When Mae Ella Died – A Story Poem

  1. Dear Ellespeth,

    It’s boggles my mind that black women raised the children in the south only to be discriminated against by their charges. I’m just now getting around to visiting and commenting after a crazy week before Valentine’s day as a cake decorator, my day job. 😦

    I’m thinking that the package from Mammy with Father’s locks shows that she’s cared for this family for generations. I also found it very telling that mother was at the funeral when the narrator has said that Mammy was the only mother she’d ever known.

    Sixteen toddlers? That would have me hiding under the bed.




    • Some people don’t have the time or the desire to raise their own children and sometimes there’s a nanny or an aunt or a grandma who becomes the real mother figure. Only someone who felt entitled wouldn’t respect such a mother figure – and, unfortunately, the world has always been filled with these sorts.

      I had the best Valentine’s cupcake the other day. Devil’s food with a delicious pink butter cream icing. I remember that you decorate cakes! I’d be a waddling blimp if I did that.



        • Yes. Gag. I can imagine the tummy turmoil…I have a gf who makes the most lovely cakes with these oh so wonderful fondant topping designs. It’s an art that tastes good, too!
          Nonetheless, my hand is just a monitor’s reach from any tasting requirements.


  2. Ellespeth,
    The loss of a nanny in the old south was always a conflicted thing. I’m interested that you chose to format this as a poem instead of prose.

    By way of critique, you might take a look at this link concerning the word “thusly”: http://grammarist.com/usage/thusly/ Generally, in modern poetry, superfluous syllables are avoided unless they are necessary to maintain the rhythm or meter of a piece.

    Thanks for showing us this look at a family’s grief.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail


    • Thanks Marie Gail. Interesting information about the word thusly. Other sections are bothersome to me. Well…I’m unsure abut this entire piece. I’m going to walk to the market. If I don’t feel differently, I’m going to remove it. It’s been two days and I’m still not right with it.
      It seemed to be a poem sort of piece.


    • See my previous response to your comment and…I’ve left it up. I changed the word Katrina (second part) to ‘we lost father’. It’s still a bit discombobulated but clearer in my heart.
      Very frustrating piece for me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Very frustrating piece for me, adam….I’ve removed the word Katrina and replaced it with a reference to the father’s death. Then I fixed the verse break between first and second parts.
      I guess it only felt like she lost everything.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful, Ellespeth. I love the unraveling of the story, the history, and her thoughts that mammy was the only mother she’d ever known, and then to find their father’s locks of hair. No wonder they wanted to drink a bit. 🙂


    • Thanks, Amy. Some experiences are like that – all the pieces are there but they don’t seem to fit properly. I actually found, in an old hope chest from my husband’s family, a compartment holding several envelopes with hair in them. The chest belonged to his grandmother. Nothing was written on the envelopes.


    • See my previous response to your comment and…I’ve changed it a bit. Took out the name Katrina and replaced it with ‘we lost father’…
      The temptation has been to remove the piece but I’ll leave it up. Maybe I won’t read it for a few days, too. 😛


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