by Michelle Troxclair

The last generation
that would clean chittlins
and greens,
collards, mustards & even turnip
sink to sink.
The last generation to
not know a damned thing about
front-lace wigs or Brazilian weave,
they used Dax, no-lye perms
and hot combs on stovetops.
The last generation to
use straw brooms and string mops,
bleach in scalding hot water,
Comet Cleanser and elbow grease
on vinyl kitchen floors.
They didn't get no acrylic nails
French manicures, plucked brows
or pedicures.
They didn't wear foundation
mascara, blush or rouge.
They wore animal print, 
black dresses, maroon lipstick
and faux fur
and they was fly--------- 
They fried chicken in hot grease,
made real macaroni and cheese,
not that box shit,
7-Up cake and hot water
cornbread from scratch.
The last generation to
wear stockings
with open-toed shoes.
They had sharp tongues,
clever wit and plenty of attitude.
Played Spades, Dominoes, Gin and
Bid Whist,
Drank Crown Royal and Southern Comfort
straight up on Saturday nights.
They went to church on Sunday morning
in pin-striped, double-breasted suits, 
sequined satin dresses and hats that
rivaled royal crowns.
And shouted-- whipping lace kerchiefs
They were born during
the revolution
when brothas was brothas
and sistas was sistas,
when we was young, black & proud--
and two fingers meant peace,
not deuces.
When afros and braids with beads
was cool,
when their folks wore
bell-bottoms, dashikis 
and platform shoes.
They held it down
while holding us up--
with little to nothing' 
to show for it.