Mammy's in de kitchen, an' de do' is shet;
All de pickaninnies climb an' tug an' sweat,[Pg 242]
Gittin' to de winder, stickin' dah lak flies,
Evah one ermong us des all nose an' eyes.
"Whut's she cookin', Isaac?"
"Whut's she cookin', Jake?"
"Is it sweet pertaters? Is hit pie er cake?"
But we couldn't mek out even whah we stood
Whut was mammy cookin' dat could smell so good.
Mammy spread de winder, an' she frown an' frown,
How de pickaninnies come a-tum-blin' down!
Den she say: "Ef you-all keeps a-peepin' in,
How I'se gwine to whup you, my! 't 'ill be a sin!
Need n' come a-sniffin' an' a-nosin' hyeah,
'Ca'se I knows my business, nevah feah."
Won't somebody tell us—how I wish dey would!—
Whut is mammy cookin' dat it smells so good?
We know she means business, an' we dassent stay,
Dough it's mighty tryin' fuh to go erway;
But we goes a-troopin' down de ol' wood-track
'Twell dat steamin' kitchen brings us stealin' back,
Climbin' an' a-peepin' so's to see inside.
Whut on earf kin mammy be so sha'p to hide?
I'd des up an' tell folks w'en I knowed I could,
Ef I was a-cookin' t'ings dat smelt so good.
Mammy in de oven, an' I see huh smile;
Moufs mus' be a-wat'rin' roun' hyeah fuh a mile;
Den we almos' hollah ez we hu'ies down,
'Ca'se hit's apple dumplin's, big an' fat an' brown!
W'en de do' is opened, solemn lak an' slow,
Wisht you see us settin' all dah in a row
Innercent an' p'opah, des lak chillun should
W'en dey mammy's cookin' t'ings dat smell so good.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
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