African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Otto Bohanan, "Mammy" (1917)

She held him in her bronzen arms
   And fed him from her lavish breast,
And rid him of a child's alarms,
   With songs that gave him rest.

He loved her tenderly, he said,
   And vowed to fill her life with pleasure.
He's growing old and she is dead,
   A picture in his memory's treasure.

But once he paused upon the bench
   Ere yet he spake the final sentence
Upon a slender black-faced wench,
   Whose eyes were grime with unrepentance:

"Old Mammy's child! Tut! Tut! 'Tis bad
   For one so young to mock the law.
Your mother's eyes must deepen sad,
   She looked upon these things with awe." 

Published in The CrisisMarch 1917

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