after mama died
daddy sent me and my brother to north Carolina
to live with people he never even met
just cause he wanted to hurt my aunts, i think
but he hurt me and my brother too.
our aunts loved us more
cause they got on a train
and came all the way to north Carolina
and took us back.
aunt marcie is our mama now
can't remember much about my real one
remember being taken to her room
to say goodbye
remember the good feel of her
remember girl cousin bobby jumping up
and down and screaming in her grief
remember crying and everyone thinking
my mother's death had upset me.
the measles had just got holt to me.
aunt Clarissa was giving me and my brother a bath
together and, as usual, we was acting up
so she spanked us.
me ... i hollared for my grandma
and she came running faster than a speeding bullet
up all 20 of those stairs, through the bathroom door
grabbed my aunt in the collar
pushed her up against the wall
and warned her
don't you be whupping my grandchildren.
aunt Clarissa still whups us when we're bad
but now she makes sure the door is locked first.
we have an after hour place in our house; downstairs
we sell liquor, moonshine, beer and rooms,
sometimes i tiptoe down the back stairs and
watch the grown folks get drunk.
aunt marcie and aunt Clarissa are always in control
they break up the fights and make anybody leave
who gets rowdy or cusses in front of us children.
miss emma was sitting on the couch, drunk as usual,
and she peed on herself.
sister (she's not blood kin, that's just her name)
is drunk too and she's messing with her boyfriend, bemo.
he's been drinking some but not too much and is pleading
with her to leave him alone.
but she's hard-headed and as usual, drunk or sober
she don't listen.
so bemo knocked her down all 20 of those steps and
then ran down and kicked her in the stomach.
i'm learning lots of things even though i'm only
seven years old. i've learned that when i grow
up i'm not going to drink
or mess with people just to be messing
or have a boy friend that knocks me down
and kicks me, f o r a n y r e a s o n.
aunt Clarissa slapped me today
cause i sassed her
but she apologized later
cause she said she had no
right to do that when she was drinking
she warned me
i'll slap you again
if you sass me again.
i accepted her apology
and her warning.
my brother and i fight all the time,
cause aunt marcie made me clean up his room,
cause he wears my white socks black,
cause he tries to kiss me and hug me
cause he gets on my nerves.
aunt marcie used to try and find out who
started the fight but it happens so
often, now she just whips both of us
with no questions asked.
my brother tries to run, talks back,
grabs the switch, pleads, i ain't gon'
do it no more aunt marcie, i ain't
gon' do it no more.
sometimes he refuses to cry, and when
you refuse to cry, grown-ups think that's
as bad as mumbling under your breath,
sucking your teeth, or talking back,
or all of them things, so when that happens
aunt marcie just keeps on with the switch til
he does cry.
his beatings take a long time.
me ... i cry quick.
i'm really lucky to have almost all my aunts
cause i've learned so much from them
when i get grown i want to have big pretty
bowlegs like aunt Clarissa
side burns that come down the cheeks like aunt julia's
a tiny moustache like aunt mary
and a pretty face like aunt clidie's
cause her face gets prettier every year
and i want to have good common sense like
all of them.
grandma has this big ugly corn on her little toe
and sometimes she can't hardly walk.
other times she wears men's shoes with
the toe cut out.
today she decided she was gonna fix that ole toe
she pulled a horsehair from the sofa cushion
tied it around that toe and every day she tightened
it just a little bit til' that ole toe came off
and her foot didn't even bleed.
now she keeps that ole toe in a jar of formaldahyde
but i don't like to look at it.
i don't like no parts of my grandma in a bottle.