I Called Her “Jo”

I called her Jo
And people got upset.
She’s an elder!
She’s a knowledge keeper!
She’s a Grandmother!
She is Josephine.

But I called her Jo.
On road trips,
In her office,
On the phone,
In so many conversations,
Because she was my friend.

But they convinced me
I was being disrespectful.
So I reached out in panic
Never ever wanting to hurt
And she laughed at me
For she was my friend.

She reminded me
Of the years and the stories,
The hugs hello and good-bye.
She told me I could call her
Anything I wanted
Because she was my friend.

And in that moment
I understood.
For you see, my friend didn’t want
Reverence or praise.
She wanted clear water
For everyone, for all, her friends.

So I call her Jo
Because she was my friend,
In the same town or far away,
Then or now,
In present day or memory,
Because she was my friend.

And I miss her.
And that’s okay too.
Because despite her humility,
Her work and her effort
Deserve to be remembered
For she was … our friend.

I love you!