Mahalia Jackson by Nicole Piot


When Mahaila Jackson sang “Great

Gettin Up Morning” I believed her.

When she sang “Didn’t It Rain”

I thought a downpour might wash

away all the terrible things in the world.

She said she sang God’s music because

it made her feel free, gave her hope

unlike the blues which when you finished

you still had them.

When she sang “Joshua Fit the Battle

of Jericho” I believed the walls of life’s

obstacles would crumble and fall away.

I didn’t know she sang to help make

the bus boycott in Montgomery work.

I didn’t know she sang before Dr. King’s

“I have a dream” speech in Washington.

All I knew was when I heard her sing

I knew there was some good in the world.

Much older and wiser I realized  

what she sang originated from a bunch

of guys running around the middle eastern deserts

spinning yarns about their leader and their god.

I don’t know if she knew she was singing

words that were never meant for her.

But she was singing from a joyful heart

a heart full of goodness. She was singing music

that had to be sung regardless of the words.