Week 175: Mama and Daughter, by Langston Hughes

I much admire this poem by the American poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967) for its spare evocative dialogue that conveys so well the wistful singing sweetness of memory.

Mama and Daughter

Mama, please brush off my coat.
I’m going down the street.

Where’re you going, daughter?

To see my sugar-sweet.

Who is your sugar, honey?
Turn around – I’ll brush behind.

He is that young man, mama,
I can’t get off my mind.

Daughter, once upon a time –
Let me brush your hem –
Your father, yes he was the one!
I felt like that about him.

But it was a long time ago
He up and went his way.
I hope that wild young son-of-a-gun
Rots in hell today!

Mama, dad couldn’t still be young.

He was young yesterday.
He was young when he –
Turn around!
So I can brush your back, I say!

Langston Hughes


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