songs without melody

in no particular order
July 23, 2009, 8:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

There are a lot of games you play when you are alone. Mama say I’m special, but sometimes I don’t wanna be. I want to be like everyone else sometime. I ask her what it was like when she was little and she shut up like a box. She rub my head and say be glad you my special baby and she turn around and look off somewhere I can’t see. I shut up about that. I still wonder, but I shut up for Mama, her sad, far off face.


He always been selfish, and I love him for it. It were me he wanted, little ole brown me! And I am gonna do what I can to stay what he want. I rub myself down in fat so my skin shine; I braid my hair so he can see my long neck he like to kiss on. I walk so he watch my behind sway; I walk so he remember me. He look at me like he hungry, and I look back. Eat me. Eat all of me.


Got the nerve to keep that carrot headed child where I can see her. She can’t hide much; only red headed nigger here, hair red as his own. I seen her come round here not long ago, just wandering without a care in the world, and I told her “Come here” and she look at me confused. Man treat her like she white, but she isn’t–she isn’t at all. I told her to come here again and some dim memory of what is right in the world came to her and she remembered her place, came to me, but her head was still up, haughty like her father’s. Wanted to ask her if she knew who I was, if she knew that she was the evidence of all that ruined me, but the words wouldn’t, couldn’t come out. I can’t bear to know. Took a long look at that child; thought of all the things he knows and does and feels without me. Well, I can keep secrets too. What does he really know of me, if this is the evidence of the things I don’t know, can’t know about him? I think about having my own baby, but I think about him and the nigger woman and my heart can not stand giving the olive branch to the one who would fill her and my bodies just the same. I, his wife, and she…fill us up both the same. And this child, evidence of all that I wish I had never known.


This place I call home get to be so small sometime, so close to me like hot breath. This little piece of land was all I knew, and it was not enough. Have to wait on everybody to get to do something here; mama to cook so I can eat, grandma to wake up to keep me company with her stories, mama’s one friend who keeps the pickneys to tell the business, and Master Tom for sweets and toys and hugs that pick me off the floor and scratch me against his rough cheek. I swear I done counted every line on every log in that home, every piece of dirt on the floor, every breath that happened and I know ain’t no more to do than wait on everybody else to make my mind off the same ole every day. So I come up with the fool idea that  I would go out and see the world if nobody else gonna take me there.

I take me a pieve of cornbread and I open the door and I walk right on out, walk past the old knottytred and yam vines, walk right past the invisible line between what I knowed and what I ain’t know hardly a’tall.  I took the paths I go with mama tofetch water—hiding when I hear the leaves and dirt move. I don’t want to go back when I just made up my mind to get going and my body to go along with my mind. A red-headed pickney easy to see.

I go by the stable to look at the horses, them big, proud beasts with hair that shine so, and each one a boy to brush it! I wonder if Master got a boy to brush his hair too, and I wonder too long and the boy come up to me all “Who you? What you doin here?” and I tell him I is May and I is my mama and daddy child and I ain’t lettin no pickney boy tell me what to do. He ask me how old I is and I say I is older’n you! He ask if I member Tom pa funeral. Well, I ain’t thought of him having a ma or pa ’til then. He a white man who my daddy and bring us nice things. He come and he go. When he come, he never talk about family. Never talk about friends. Never tell stories like grandma or how to keep a house and garden like mama. He nice to us, sure, but my father have a father? I think about this too long and the boy say “So I is older, then! Now you little ninny best tell me what you doin here. Ain’t you got work to do?” Naw I say.  He think too long now, his bead eyes taking me in, mine looking straight back. “You too old not to be working” he say. He see my hair again, see me again. “You shole is funny lookin” he say with a grin and I ball my fist up, mad, say Don’t nobody talk to me like that I say I don’t look funny, I look like me and I put my handon my hip likemy mama do. “Well, you is funny lookin” he say “but that’s all right, I got big ears, see?” He wiggle his ears for me. “They say I can fly away on these things” and I laugh and we was funny lookin together. And I think to myself, now this is life, here, not stuck up in that old dusty house.

I hear a horse clop on in and he look at me and his body get stiff and he lose his eye wrinkle and dimple. I stick around, and he tell me “Girl, old as you is and you don’t know—you got to go!” I look hurt and he say “You can’t just stay when I got work to do, s’all I’m sayin” and I watch his skinny back and his pole legs in too short pants, feet crusted with dirt and horse shit as he turn round and feed them bright shiny beasts. I runout, but I got to see him again. He as new to me as I am to him.


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

i love May’s voice and love the dialogue btwn her and the stablehand. i feel very much a part of the world you’re creating here, already. it’s great! 🙂

Comment by slb

This may sound funny or off, but the voice the little girl has definitely sounds like a “May.” I don’t know why, but I have envisioned her as a child-like “May” from the Secret Lives of Bees and I like this face that I’ve given her. The stable-hand seems playful yet concerned for her too in a way. I love this and I am so glad you’re writing again!

Comment by trEmaine

I enjoyed reading this!

Comment by Rochelle

I want more!

Comment by Rochelle

Did you stop blogging? Will we read any more of your work?

Comment by Rochelle

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