Excerpt: 'The Way She Wants to Get There'

By Mary Moore Easter

My Mama said when I came home for vacation I could lay my burden down. I could just shift the load of this complicated life I was building for myself in Minnesota and lay my burden down. That's how she still talked sometimes, like a black southern woman born in Jarratt, Virginia. Not the professor, the honorary doctorate recipient, the Visiting Composer in Residence. And she knew how to manipulate the contrast. Like in New York when she was hooded and sheepskinned at Town Hall. She turned to the dignitaries and said, "Do, Jesus!"

People in Minnesota who heard me on the phone with her told me my voice was different, too. I said, "how you all doin'," without even thinking about it. I was sliding into home, the pace of home, the comfort of that slow speech they all used to speak. I was sliding right through that wire to my grandmother's house, the front porch rocker, the chinaberry tree in the backyard. With one "how y'all doin'," I was gone somewhere else where generations of my people lived in everyone's memory just like bumping into them walking down Halifax Street in Petersburg.