Eight cars squeezed into the driveway. The
kitchen full of daughters and granddaughters
cooking, talking, laughing.
Jim making biscuits.
Cousins passing around the baby.
She looks at them and goes back to sleep.
After lunch, they blow bubbles between
the cars in the cool green sunshine.

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

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.