The Windoms of the Dusty Cotton Fields of Mississippi

by on February 15, 2019 · 1 comment

in From the Soul

Pearlie Mae and Ernie

by Ernie McCray

I look at a picture of my cousin, Pearlie Mae, and me, thinking how proud she would be of her grandchild, Renee Purdie, who’s written a collection of poetry she’s calling “Pieces of Me: Love, Lust and Lentils.”

She’d literally glow seeing how this young woman is blossoming as a human being, writing poems that touch the heart.

Like Pearlie Mae and me, she is a descendant of the Windoms of the dusty cotton fields of Mississippi.

She’s one of our family tree’s many beautiful flowers who’ve risen above what society expected of us, and managed to do well in life, learning and giving, far and wide, some of us landing in Tucson.

Renee came along long after I had packed up and gone from the Old Pueblo, and I have only been in her company a few times, but I feel like I know her a little better every time I’ve read her poetry. I love the way she expresses herself: this most gifted descendant of the Windoms of the dusty cottonfields of Mississippi.

And I was caught by surprise when I turned a page and read a poem about me:

“For Cousin Charles (my middle name)
Part Poet
Part Philosopher
All Heart”

And it reads:

“You’re a transformer.
Switched on.
Alive.
Plugged into life.

You’re a dancer with a musical ear… hearing notes
that have faded away or not yet been played.

Sure-footed, graced with a dazzling intellect and
smile to match, your sonorous voice was
mellifluously made to teach. To encourage. To
speak for the voiceless.”

Oh, wow, excuse me for a moment while I prance around with my chest stuck out. What an honor to be depicted in such a way, to be understood, to be among so many lovely love poems, poems about lost love, love divine, love that didn’t pass the test of time, real love as opposed to sugary fantasies, love dying, love growing – so much love. But there can never be enough love, I don’t think.

A lot of what she shared of herself resonated with me. Deeply. Two poems, especially.

Renee Purdie

One waxed eloquently about how burdensome it is to “carry love alone” and that kind of settled into my bones as I looked back in my history to a time as a young husband and father of three that I felt as though I was loving way more than I was being loved – coming home excited about something wonderful that had happened in my classroom and finding that I was the only one excited and someone’s indifference to your passion can dampen the brightest day.

And, in those moments, this usually proud descendant of the Windoms of the dusty cottonfields of Mississippi would question his worth and wonder how he was going to make it in this world as a black man dealing with “The Man” and a marriage that was, out of hand, beyond repair.

And just when I felt I needed air a poem before me spoke of “forever love” and I remembered such love, love that made my life feel worthwhile, love that was in my corner, love that came to me in the form of a blessing, the love of a woman who fulfilled my every dream.

And she died and another woman came on the scene, making it seem that “forever love,” in the cosmos’ scheme of things was meant for me to have.

I could feel my young cousin’s faith and her concerns about the world as I took in her words. I admire her courage because I know how hard it was for her to put her heart out there for all to see.

I like that she’s

Part Poet
Part Philosopher
All Heart
Just like me.

Somewhere out there Pealie Mae is looking down on her granddaughter with a smile on her face, like the one in the picture, knowing that Renee’s in a good place in life, giving of her talents to humanity.

A beautiful desert flower on the Family Tree of the Windoms of the dusty cotton fields of Mississippi.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Dr. J February 20, 2019 at 8:59 pm

This brought many memories, enough to last a life time. Cotton patch, Laurel Miss.

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