Growing up in my era, I knew not to ask why, because children had their place, didn’t hang around when grown folks had their talking sessions. I always believed in minding my elders. I couldn’t imagine where my teeth would be, if I’d said something not right or in the wrong tone. Really, mama knew I wouldn’t cross that river. I remember mama said, “You have to know when to speak and when not to speak.” How eagerly she told kinfolk that her grandmother raised her, but she said, “Momma.”
It’s the way I carry myself—the urge to speak when I must or not speaking when it doesn’t feel quite right to flap my jaws.
grandfather clock chimes
on the glossy mantel