Head of Table

My father at head of table

I don’t remember how the argument

started. I just

remember how my uncle Louis exploded

with the anger he’d been

holding in for years. Ever since

my grandfather died and my father

took his place at the head of table.

As the oldest, my father thought of

himself as head of the family. But he didn’t live in

that house. It was my uncle’s house. He

lived there. He paid the bills. He

bought the food and supported their

mother and sister and nephew. Everyday

he went to the clinic where he and his father

had practiced medicine. His name was on

the deed. Why wasn’t he sitting at head of

table? My father sort of laughed it off, made

some remark to diffuse the situation, changed

his seat. I think. He must have because after

that, my uncle sat at the head and my father sat

elsewhere around the table. I do remember

that. That and the anger.


My sister and I sat on her porch.

We drank tea and talked

about grandchildren, her

newest play, the ways of

white folks and

black folks, the song of

a bird in the yard and how

her plants have grown, how

wonderful this year’s garden will

be. Zeke came in with apple pie and

news of police cars and yellow tape

up at the Krogers up the street. Of a U

turn and a trip to the store in the other

direction. My sister googled;

a shooting in the produce department. Two

women argue, a male

companion shoots; the woman, alert,

identifies everybody on her way

to the hospital. We

shook our heads, vowing never to

return to that particular store and

ate our pie.