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.