poetry By Melba Joyce Boyd Aretha Franklin, Rock Steady for The Queen of Soul (1942-2018) “Aretha sang the way black folks sing when they leave themselves alone.” Ray Charles Your songs soar with angels, strengthen our resolve, demand respect like a Natural Woman, to think, to Do Right despite racial strife or some lowdown man, inflicting endless grief on a woman’s pain cause “Ain’t no way, Ain’t no way, for me to love you.” Hailing from New Bethel Baptist, your gospels bring healing to sorrow, subvert suffering, inspire choirs, preachers in pulpits, and even the Pope. “Got to find me an angel.” “What it is, What it is, What it is.” Amazing grace, how sweet is your sound born in Memphis, raised up in Detroit City, reaching Spanish Harlem, with spiritual reverberations scaling a nation’s blues, revolutionizing American music, blessing an entire world making us whole. “What it is, What it is, What it is.” Sista Re’s gone home. “Mary, don’t you weep, Martha, don’t you moan” Rock Steady, baby. Rock Steady for the Queen of Soul. August 16, 2018 “Mary, don’t you weep, Pharaoh’s army got drowned” Your rhythm and blues are liberation anthems, Bridges Over Troubled Waters, elevating inaugurations for Presidents Clinton and Obama, crowning your legacy Gold with the Freedom Medal of Honor. God lifted your regal voice, invoking your father’s seamless faith and mission, marching with Martin, to sing for our King, for his vision, for his dream.