Mama Lena Younger

Posted on February 10, 2021


(A found poem from A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry)

1. About That Insurance Money…

I ain’t rightly decided. 

Some of it got to be put away for Beneatha and her schooling – 

and ain’t nothing going to touch that part of it. 


Been thinking we maybe could meet the notes on a little old two-story somewhere, 

with a yard where Travis could play in the summertime, 

if we use part of the insurance for a down payment and everybody kind of pitch in. 

Me and your daddy, we was going to set away, little by little, don’t you know, and buy a little place. 

Lord, child, you should know all the dreams I had about buying that house 

and fixing it up and making me a little Garden in the back – 

and didn’t none of it happen.

 I always wanted me a garden 

like I used to see sometimes 

at the back of houses down home.

2. About My Children

They frightens me, my children.

There’s something come down between me and them 

that don’t let us understand each other, 

and I don’t know what it is.

Once Upon a Time, Freedom used to be life – 

now it’s money. 

I guess the world really do change.

Here come you two – 

talking about things we ain’t never even thought about hardly, 

me and your daddy. 

You ain’t satisfied or proud of nothing we done. 

I mean that you had a home; that we kept you out of trouble till you was grown; 

you my children – but how different we done become.

When the world gets ugly enough – a woman will do anything for her family.

What do you think your Grandmama has gone and done with that money?

She went out and bought you a house. 

It’s going to be yours when you get to be a man. 

It’s a nice house too… three bedrooms–

and there’s a yard with a little patch of dirt 

where I could maybe get to grow me a few flowers… 

And a nice big basement.

I just tried to find the nicest place for the least amount of money for my family.

I just seen my family falling apart… 

When it gets like that in life – you just got to do something different.

I wish you’d say how deep inside you 

you think I done the right thing.

3. About My Dreams

Ever since I was a little girl, 

I always remembers people saying, 

“Lena – you aims too high all the time. 

You needs to slow down and see life 

a little more like it is. 

Just slow down some.” 

That’s what they always used to say down home – 

“Lord, that Lena is a high-minded thing. 

She’ll get her due one day!”

I just didn’t never learn right,

just aimed too high all the time.

I sees things differently now. 

Sometimes you just got to know 

when to give up some things… 

And when to hold on to what you got.

4. About What’s Important

Death done come walking in my house 

on the lips of my children. 

You were supposed to be my beginning again. 

You – what’s supposed to be my Harvest.

I thought I taught you to love.

There is always something left to love. 

And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing. 

Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? 

When they done good and made things easy for everybody? 

Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. 

It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself cuz the world done whipped him so! 

When you start measuring somebody, 

measure him right, child, measure him right. 

Make sure you done taken into account 

what Hills and Valleys he come through 

before he got to wherever he is.

Like a rainbow after the rain…

There is always something left to love. 

And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing.

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy
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Posted in: Books, Poetry