I don’t know what happened to all the men. Used to wonder if they killed them. For a while I even thought maybe they just kept hatchin’ girls by themselves. I called them all my aunt, but come to find out some of them weren’t really my aunt. They were cousins or friends of cousins.
One afternoon I was in the house on Brick Street when one of them told me to wash the collards. “I don’t want to,” I says.
“I don’t care what you want, fancy pants. Get on in there and wash those collards,” she hollered back.
I went into the kitchen where it was even hotter than in the other rooms. They had been bakin’ that morning and the tiny tiny window over the sink was no help and the air just stood still. I walked over to the scratched-white basin that one of them had filled with warm water. I started to take the collards out of the paint bucket on the floor and I put them into the water. Once they were in, I got up on my toes and I pressed the collards down, and up with the rising water came the biggest and scariest hundred-legged black bug you have ever seen. I screamed and jumped up and down and one of them came in and yelled, “This child ain’t right in the head.”
I ran straight past her toward the screened-door hoping like anything it wasn’t locked.