By Raji Singh
To acknowledge the end of National Poetry Month and welcome May Day and Mothers, here is a poignant story of a mother’s lament
* * *
“Tis 1800, there ‘bouts, early morn.
Today Thibidioux chil’ to be born.
Butterflies come and tell me so.
‘Come Mama Lucy – time to go.’”
110 year-old healer and midwife Mama Lucy chants these words as she walks sprightly along the bayou road leading to the Thibidioux cabin. Amulet necklaces of critter teeth and bones click together in time to her pace.
“13’s be wild
Bad tidins’ for comin’ child
Ups to me to potion free
The innocent born to be”
She cups hands behind her back and catches a floating 13-pointed leaf. For luck, she extends ritual by popping it in her mouth, swallowing.
“Should be gay – this First of May
But twelve plus one crayfish
Black pussy, at my door, lay.”
Mama Lucy’s words that come, seldom, yet sublime, often arrive in singsong rhyme. ‘Dems of the bayou forgive her this crime. They know the tragedy that fraught this
“My only beget,
Shoeless, her worm-thin toes wriggle in the dirt. Dress looks a gunnysack containing rattly-bony frame. Never tall, with age she’s shrunk to the length of a yard-and-a-third stick, almost as thin. She’s pliable, like willow; no dry twigs of arthritis. Easily she carries a 40-pound carpetbag of potions, lotions and cures weighing half herself. Ghost-white hair sprouts sparsely from atop once onion-round head that is now withered, avocado shape. You can’t tell if she’s white or black because time has blended her skin to a neutral gray. Blind, eyes shriveled pits; she views with eagle vision the world through her senses.
From seemingly nowhere lightening crisscrosses the azure sky, occasionally igniting burbling swamp gas. The explosions are like popping firecrackers. They frizz thick moss swaying from trees. Mama Lucy sniffs,
“Rotten egg smell.
‘Yea, do foretell
Bad day be born
She plans to dose the mother with a tonic of foamed mushroom and boiled spleck to delay birth ‘til past midnight, when a new day would bring fresh charms.
Mama Lucy feels the air, suddenly dank.
“Hundred yards yonder
13 gators, dey bask.
Dey no hinder
My carin’-for task.”
She doesn’t veer: BLIND PERSISTENCE; BLINDING STUBBORNESS!
Rouge dust stirs at Mama’s feet as she meanders to, then among the lounging reptiles: All are tan-tinted 8 to 12 footers – biggest in the swamps. 
Senses tell Mama Lucy that today they scheme as they lounge. She feels their fear and apprehension as they nervously swing open their snouts. Teeth brush her knees. They cry out at her intrusion.
Their instincts – to stave off riling-up two-legs, thus, preventing wholesale gator slaughter – dictates their bayou code:
GATOR BRETHREN EAT A TWO-LEG. THEN THEIR RELATIVE BE UNTOUCHABLE. SO, NONE MAY HARM MAMA!
This, be their ancient bayou ‘way’.
Mama Lucy plucks gently into balmy air and catches mosquito. She holds it, as New Orleans gentry hold teacup between thumb and forefinger.
“Skeeter, take mah blood.”
She lets it sting, then, bayou-lightening fast, moves her hand and places it near the biggest gator’s battle-cratered snout – that of King Creole. King Creole instinctively scissors open, shuts jaw. He snarfs insect cleanly, not touching human finger.
“I trick you, mah shaz a mio.
My blood floods into you, King Creole
So now hast you strode
Over your own precious code”
Again, this cunning ancient human who knows him well has duped him – the KING!
She, who took him in as foundlin’ gator, hardly bigger ‘n a human finger. He were dehydrated, floppin’ down-side up, hunnerd yards from the bayou. Doctored ‘im day n’ night; wet-nursed scratchy, wee-toothed beast right alongside own boy ‘til ‘e could ‘et solids: Let ‘em both sleep together; raised ‘im into a fine young specimen, she did, then set im free in the swamps so ‘e could live ‘mongst own kind.
N’ ‘ow ‘e repays ‘er? By, years later returnin’ and ‘etten her grown son, his own crib, then sandbox, then pirogue, brother.
Creole snaps, bellows. Slimy reptile saliva spatters Mama’s face. She wipes it into a bottle she snakes from pocket.
‘I trick double.
Gainst your lurkin’
No’ting a better fixer,
Den gatah-spit elixir.’
–Poppy Sol reflects philosophically down at the alligator conclave. ‘As humans do what they gotta; so to, gators do, but not necessarily what they oughtta.’–
Gators stare warily at their king. Grumbling growls. Some wonder. Should they doubt his ability to deal with the bayou two-legs.
King regains composure. He brings the conclave to order by thumping gavel tail. He needs their full support in their long-planned, REVOLUTION against humans that begins today. He raises tail, proudly, and then dangles it, disgusted. Embedded into it is a squirrel that failed to hustle past with a nut.
Mama Lucy: No longer does she despise Creole for ‘etten her only offspring right in front of her 3/4’s century past. She began rhymin’ – that’s how she stays sane. It took Mama nearly half-a-century,
“…ta be a realizin’
Life way-too shoat
To be a grievin’
Cain’t no longer float.”
She pats Creole’s snout. Though blind, she believes she can see her son’s eyes in Creole’s eyes. Imagined though that might be, it’s the only vestige of his life she’d ever have. Because of that, never would she harm Creole, she long-ago vowed. 
“I know you be a plannin’ somethun’, King Creole,” says Mama Lucy. “I be keepin’ eye on you wif’ my soul.” She slides a bottle from her carpetbag and sprinkles sparkly contents over gators. She chants,
“Grinded an’ pulverized leather hide
‘a gators long gone-away.
Let descendents see yer evil fate,
If today, on humans
You darest to prey.”
Gators sneeze, quiver, and shiver, at feeling the dust-touch of ancestors. Some run.
Huey Long, ruthless politico, demagogue in the making – King Creole’s top Lieutenant and held back only by King Creole – stops them with a growl that sends treed birds flying. ‘Do not let the old witch bad-omen us and stop our revolution. If you do, I will hunt you down. Your fate will be worse than that of becoming your ancestors’ powder.’
Gators of the conclave crouch. They fear staying but fear even more, going.
Mama Lucy re-commences trek toward the Thibidioux place – just up the way. Gators mill, always with two on lookout for Thibidioux cousins, uncles who might pass by with glistening explosion sticks deadlier than any razor fang.
Perilous tannicus: Nicknamed ‘Gatemouth Browns’, because these muddy-complexioned perils have snouts that thrash wildly as gates in a gale. The swinging produces a twangy bluesy melody. Perilous tannicus live five times longer than most gator breeds, and some bayou folk claim it’s because their baby-cry-like songs relieve tension, subdue worries.
 ~~Editor’s note: You, too, can see Mama Lucy’s son’s haunting eyes.~~
(Read more of Mama Lucy, King Creole, and the gators in the novel, Tales of Fiction House. Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)
©2013 Raji Singh
©2015 Raji Singh (Additional material)