Table Scraps and Other Essays
(Resource Publications, December 2019)
My mother used to say, "If you sing before breakfast, you'll cry before dinner." That early morning hour was reverenced - a time to recognize the Lord's business, to commune with your loved ones, or to do whatever, but it was never a time to sing. Apparently, singing that early in the day could be considered a slap in the Lord's face, for he hadn't the time to reveal to us just what kind of day he wanted us to have. For similar reasons, we couldn't sing at the dinner table, girls couldn't whistle, and, particularly, no one could iron on Sunday. So if we were caught doing these types of things, we got "looked" at. My mother's knowing, penetrating eyes would then virtually send us to an embarrassing hole that we couldn't get out of until she finally looked away. None of us wanted to get that look because we knew the look was our fair warning, and that after the look would come her retribution. From "Table Scraps," the title essay, p. 3
The Persimmon Trail and Other Stories
(Chin Music Press, 2015)
So he breaks the loaf of bread and takes a small piece for himself and then passes the two larger pieces to the women sitting next to him: my first grade teacher, Mrs. Corning, on the one hand and Zora Neale Hurston on the other. My teacher breaks off a piece and passes it on to Oprah, and Zora takes a piece and passes it on to Mrs. King. Oprah, to Aretha Franklin; Mrs. King, to my mother; Aretha, to my Aunt Sherry; my mother, to Alice Walker; Aunt Sherry, to Missy Elliot; and Alice, well, she has no one to pass the bread to unless she reaches over the empty chair and gives it to me, but Missy Elliot has already practically thrown the final, piddley piece that has come down that side of the table to me (this is that real fresh version of Missy, when she first came out with a hit record). Alice and I look at Aretha and say nothing. Alice places half of her bread on the plate of the missing guest. I wonder if anyone, besides me, wants to know why my grandmother will not take her seat.
From "The Meeting," p. 205