Mardi Gras Indians
warriors pour onto the street in beautiful form.
This is their day so they must hurry.
Cares are forgotten; there is no worry.
Spy boys run with flags waving high
do their duty with lots of pride,
chanting loudly Indian ditties
as they wind their way through the city.
Chieftains dressed so fine and neat
with large feather crowns from head to feet.
Satin, silk and beads to suit their style,
one glance of them is worth your while.
Braves line the street dressed so pretty.
Mardi Gras lasts only a day – what a pity!
Primitive beauty at a fleeting glance,
watch as they prepare for the Indian dance.
Tambourines beating savagely all the while,
they sing and dance in war like style.
Bowing, kneeling and leaping in the air,
Chock-a-ma-fi-na sung everywhere.
Little boys eyes open wide
when Mardi Gras Indians walk by.
Holding tight to their mother’s hands,
every one loves the Mardi Gras Indian bands.
Mardi Gras 2016 is February 9. Mardi Gras Indians have a long history in New Orleans and have been a part of Mardi Gras celebrations for generations. My mother, Lucy Francois Hymes, experienced Mardi Indian culture as a child coming of age in New Orleans. A high-light of Mardi Gras for the Hymes family was walking or driving through back-a-town in search of Indians and King Zulu. This was back in the day when neither group was permitted to parade on any downtown streets. This poem captures my mother's memories of Mardi Gras Indians.
Thanks for reminding me of this poem, Kate. I experience the looking up and excitement, especially that of a child, waiting to sight the Indians. What brilliant colors in the photograph! What a year of labor for a day's celebration! Reminds me of the impulse of (South Asian) Indian women's colored sand paintings.
Lesser le bon temps roulee!
It's wonderful to read a poem by Lucy after hearing so many stories of her as a child and young woman. Thank you for posting this!
Thanks for sharing your mom's writing; you're so lucky to have some of your mother's writing. See you on Wednesday.