Category Archives: Michelle McEwen

Tall Love by Michelle McEwen

No more giving away what I got and gettin’ nothing back. I give my heart, my time, and what’s between my legs and all I get is a bunch of men’s backs on their way out the door. My old honey thought I was sleeping when he snuck out. I was awake, though— watched him tiptoeing out. Funny sight— grown men tiptoeing. I cried a spell about it, but no more of that nonsense crying for me. I’m at that age where my folks starting to drop like flies and I need my tears for them. Too old to be weepin’ over menfolk, too old for this one-sided love I keep gettin’. Aunt Tookie says I love too hard— says no man’s love ever gonna match how I love. That’s ‘cause I got this way of lovin’ that if I took my love, put it up against a wall, and marked off the height with a pencil, every day it’d be taller— a growing child. What I got is tall love. My men got short love; no matter what you do, it don’t grow. Unless I find a man with tall love, my legs staying closed. Gonna need a password to get ‘em open again. Won’t be no simple password like I love you. It’s gon’ be something tough like “Baby, I been all over Chicago. Had me some moneyed women, yellow women, plump women, but they got nothin’ on the one I got layin’ up next to me.”

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Full Moon, Blue Moon by Michelle McEwen

Whenever there is a full moon, ma always gets the need to call daddy long distance down south — even though daddy isn’t thinking about her. He only calls us once in a blue moon and that’s to check up on his baby girls. Every time the moon is big and bright in the hall window, ma says, “Look at that moon” and runs to the kitchen phone to call daddy. Daddy always picks up on the second ring and ma always says, “The moon made me call. Remember how you used to get when there was a full moon?” Ma doesn’t give daddy time to remark; she just gets right to explaining to daddy how daddy used to be during a full moon. “Remember how you’d come home from work and start fussin? That was the moon in you,” she usually says, laughing — her laugh more like a howl. Then she’ll lower her voice — say, “And after all that fussin, you’d be all over me making me feel like how I looked before the babies. No man ever gon’ top your lovin!” Knowing daddy, this makes him smile; daddy is a fool for praising. And I swear I can hear his smile across the kitchen into the living room where me and my sister always sit listening to ma explaining daddy to daddy. “I swear your daddy some kin to the moon,” she sometimes says on her way through the living room to her bedroom to dream about daddy.

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Mexican Love by Michelle McEwen

Grandma Zabeth has border town blood— that’s what the kin say. I don’t know what a border town is so I don’t know what they mean. Once, I asked Aunt Jo what a border town was and she said it was a town close to the border. When I asked what a border was, she said it was the line between Texas and Mexico. When I asked what color the line was, auntie moaned— said if I shut up about border towns, she’d give me her tangerine incense. I used up that incense yesterday, so I’m back to asking about grandma’s border town blood. Today, Uncle El came over to sit on the porch with mama. When mama went inside, I asked Uncle El about grandma; he said she was brought up in a Texas border town. At eighteen, she could’ve left but she stayed and fell for this married man, Eli, from Mexico. “That Mexican love almost killed her,” he said. After Eli broke grandma’s heart, she chopped the Eli from her name— became Zabeth instead of Elizabeth; she didn’t want Eli at the beginning of her name anymore. I pictured Grandma setting her name on a workbench, bringing down an ax between the I and Z. Grandma wanted Eli’s babies but he had five with his wife and didn’t want more. Mama was back on the porch when Uncle El said this. “Why you tellin’ her that,” she said then swept me off the porch with her broom.

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Leta Rhymes with Cheetah by Michelle McEwen

Leta ain’t one of us. She got the same last name as us; she got the same mama and daddy, but she’s not one of us. We Wilson sisters got straight, pretty teeth— Not Leta. Leta (rhymes with Cheetah) got fangs. Daddy says the fangs are from his side; he says his daddy had fangs. But in pictures, daddy’s daddy’s fangs don’t look sharp like Leta’s. “That’s ‘cause granddaddy had human fangs—Leta got animal fangs,” I said once and my other sisters agreed. Most folks, after meeting Leta, say she acts like a boy, but it’s more than that— she’s more animal than boy. Folks think ‘cause she can’t cook or fill out dresses that makes her a boy. I wanna tell them how Leta’s more like something dragged in from outside. It don’t matter that she was raised inside, Leta’s always gonna have that outside blood. The rest of us Wilsons are inside blooded. I wish, though, I was made up of the stuff Leta is made of. One night, I caught her slipping out the hall window. I let her get far enough ahead then I followed her to behind the supermarket where some boy was waiting. He wasn’t from around here. He was what daddy would call a “football boy.” I saw Leta run to him, knock him down and kiss him. What came next I shouldn’t have watched, but Leta – undressed – started climbing all over him like he was a tree instead of a boy.

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Miss Lamb’s Love Advice by Michelle McEwen

Don’t worry about love— that’s what Miss Lamb says whenever her niece comes over weeping and wailing about some man. Miss Lamb is sixty-something and she’s through with love. Whenever she hears a woman talking about looking for love, her favorite thing to say is: “You looking for love? Why? I ain’t. All I want is a good night’s sleep.” Then she laughs and says, “Watch, once you get old like me, you don’t wanna be bothered.” Miss Lamb was engaged once, but the man tried to boss her around. That engagement lasted a year; she knew then marriage wasn’t for her. “I see it like this,” she once said, “the only women meant to be wives are fool- women.”

Yesterday, I was sitting in Miss Lamb’s kitchen— crying and carrying on (though this wasn’t my intention) about some good love gone bad. Miss Lamb rolled her eyes in her what-I-tell-you-‘bout-love way. She said, turning on her oven for heat, “I don’t deal with love, but one thing I know ‘bout love is really good love don’t go bad.” My tears stopped then. She took my hand, said: “You know when you got a good dress that fit you well? It’s tight in the right spots and no matter how much you wear or wash it, it stays fittin you the same. Well, a bad made dress will loosen up after a few washes— now that was a no-good dress from the start.” Miss Lamb knows what she’s talking about.

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My Man’s Voice by Michelle McEwen

You ever hear you some singing on the radio on one of those a.m. AM stations with a lot of static? You ever hear all that static, but you hear this singing coming right through all clear? My man’s voice is like that— rough but sweet, barbwire and roses. When he picks up the phone, folks, even kin who should know better, on the other end always got something to say about his voice — especially if it’s someone with the wrong number. The other day, some wrong-number-woman called and my man picked up. He said hello and his hello was like a whole soul song floating across the line; the woman tried to keep him on. She asked what he was made of — honey? “You must be with a voice like that.” I heard her ‘cause I was right up under him. I told him to hang up, but he just smiled and kept talking like he knew her from way back. I heard her laughing at everything my man said, so I snatched the phone out his hand and hung up. My man gave me his what-you-wants-to-do-that-for face and I told him it didn’t make sense for him to be talking to that woman when she had the wrong number. I stared at him then — whisk in hand and ready to use it on him — and said, “She had the wrong number, right?” He aw-baby’d me and said, “Yeah.” And upstairs he flew to wait on his dinner.

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