“From de country
by de pound!
What have you Missey?”
He was an ancient peddler,
seventy-something seven years ago,
sole the freshest everything.
“Been peddlin’ ovva fifty years
me an me brotha;
a tourist run ovva him
His shoulders stooped
from watermelon weight
Still six feet,
his West Indian coffee color
bronzes in New Orleans winter sun.
He remembered me every fall he said,
my Catholic school uniform, African-Asian looking eyes,
a few pennies tip with each mango.
“So, you’re a lady now hey?
Pretty little Afro too,
an you nevva fohgot ole Moze de bidda?”
Moze filled my lunch bag once a week
with free pralines, fresh fruit, and his/ stories.
Tell ‘em you had
coffee wid chicory
at de Café du Monde
wid Mozambique du Cong.
Tell ‘em foh me. Tell ‘em!”
Mona Lisa Saloy
from her book Red Beans and Ricely Yours
Truman State University Press, 2005
reprinted with permission of the poet