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by Eddie Edwards Draper

    A finer black lady never walked this Delta land. High on morals, low on nary a soul.

    We never knew how she acquired that name, but when you saw Miss Spongy, you knew you were in for another bend in the river. She could weave a tale about most anything. You pick a subject, and away she would take you beyond your imagination.

    She and Mr. Zeke lived in an ole three room cotton shack out in the field behind my parents' house. They had nine kids and oodles of chickens which she used to fry up for us on Sundays after church. She had reached the age where she was too old to pick cotton so my parents asked her to come to our house and work for us.

    Miss Spongy was nearly crippled and had to tred slowly with a homemade cane that Zeke had made for her out of an old oak tree from the woods on the back forty. She used to whop us on our behinds if any of us kids "'twernt behaving," as she used to say.

    One day, the Sheriff came by looking for Mr. Zeke. It was rumored that he had a still on our property and was selling moonshine around these parts. Sure enough, they found it and Zeke was hauled off to the county farm to serve time. Miss Spongy was about to have a "hissy fit." She cried and wailed so loud that Mama told us kids to go play outside as it was scaring us.

    Mr. Zeke served his time and returned to as normal a life as they possibly could have. The jailing took a mighty toll on his pride and his health. Zeke never saw his eightieth birthday.

    Miss Spongy was never her ole spunky self after that. She stopped working for us and would just sit in her creaking rocking chair and stare into the coal heated fireplace. Mama and Daddy took her into town on Saturdays and bought her some groceries and sometimes a new dress from the department store. Nothing seemed to bring any cheer to this lifeless soul. I used to take my guitar and harmonica to her shack with good intentions of putting some life back into her.

    Miss Spongy died in that ole rocking chair, one year to the day that Mr. Zeke passed.

    She shaped my life and made me a far better person.

    Years have passed since that time, and I have moved to the big city. You know what? Everytime I return to the Delta, I travel down that ole gravel road where the ole homeplace used to be and get down on my knees and pray and thank Miss Spongy for making me whatever I am today.


    Eddie Draper is a native of the Mississippi Delta and is a regular contributor to USADS.
    He now lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is a songwriter and musician.

    Write Eddie at Gravel Road Music.


    Poems and stories by Eddie E. Draper ~
    Miss Spongy
    The Shadow Of Your Breath
    My First Graderís First Picture
    Upon One Delta Night
    Out On A Limb
    Katieís Kitchen Floor
    Old Ditch
    Lonesome Delta Field
    Peckerwood Deadning
    Delta Force
    My Angel Must Have Just One Wing
    Horizons Of My Heart
    Pianos Have Their Form Of Soul
    Peace On The Road
    Trees Are Made Of Doors
    Oh Distant Star
    Upon The Candled Night
    The Worldly Light
    Itís Only Life
    Mississippi River ~ Queen Of My Life
    Thatís All Thatís Left To Do

    Want to leave a comment on Eddie's poems?
    Please visit our Message Board
    or write Ye Editor at bethjacks@hotmail.com.


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