THREE!  This poem answers three prompts:  We Write Poems (Against the Grain), Writer’s Island (Tribute), and Sunday Scribblings (Big).

Larger than life, yet in her own mind, just doing her part. One of my all-times heroes, and right now, we need all the heroes we can get. Amy

Big Little Woman

To a woman who lost it all
Widowed, her children dead from dread disease, the flu pandemic.
After her kids perished, she nursed neighbors.

To a woman who rose from grief and chose
to take up the burden of others:
Mothers, fathers, children, all laboring side by side
in factories, in fields, on farms, long hours for pennies,
as their cruel, crafty masters garnered a tidy profit.

Fat cats whose fortunes were secure.
Rich men whose better angels whispered, “Show love, compassion.”
But Greed and Hubris shout down angels.
They blot out God in a frenzied cloud
of green ink and gold coins numbering 30 and more.

Still, this widow woman knew nothing and cared less
about her own comfort. Others’ welfare trumped wealth
in her sensibilities, as she saw the rich exploit the masses.

She trod into the mines and the mills.
She talked in the fields, where the hopeless
worked long hours under punishing conditions.

She spoke of dignity (if she’d stopped there,
she would never have seen a jail cell).
She spoke of fairness (watch it, lady).
She shouted about rights (ah, the gloves were off now).

She stirred the pot, this big little woman,
pistol under her petticoat, taking on police
sent by their rich masters.

She was the voice of unions, the midwife of labor.
Let’s raise a toast in tribute to this hero,
who warned us that labor leaders should never
wear fancy suits or become rich off their organizations
(a fact that speaks volumes today)
and who taught us that, no matter what
the rank and file must be protected:

Raise your glasses high to Mother Jones.