Nina Simone, Celia Cruz, Billie Holiday, and Bessie
were all sistas growin’ up,
keepin’ her company through only-child-blues.
Afternoons spent laughin’, cryin’, dancin’ motown gold,
harmonizin’ are-’n-be teen sweet melodies.

Aretha Franklin, La Lupe, Diana and the Supremes
stayed up nights at heartbreak hotel,
rappin’ real close moonshine doo-waps,
patiently riffin’ their lines till she learned all the words.
Takin’ it higher,
hittin’ all the notes home.

Ronnie Scepter and Gladys Knight hung out too.
The first time ever she heard Roberta Flack,
knew they were fruit from the same feelin’ tree.
How they loved her madly, without even tryin’.
Didn’t have to be nobody. Didn’t need to prove.
They never got tired, or complained about the volume,
or even cared who was listenin’.
Always by her side, no matter what.
Tight for days.
Gettin’ it on. Gettin’ down.

Sistas all the way.

From Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo (Arte Publico Press, 1990). Copyright © 1990 by Sandra María Esteves. Used with the permission of the author.