Mama was on her knees, leaning into the space under the kitchen sink, glass jars on the floor surrounding her.
Was she getting ready to start canning? Curious, I sat cross-legged on the floor and waited.
She leaned back, a jar in hand which she held up, examined. She sighed.
"All these jars and none's bigger than a mite." She glanced at me. "We're gonna put one on the counter at your daddy's store. Take up a collection to help pay the lawyers for Roy and J.W." She grunted. "Defense lawyers." She shook her head and returned to her search.
"Thank you Jesus!" she joyously exclaimed. She braced a hand on the counter edge and pulled herself up.
I watched her hold the jar under running water. Soaping the dish towel, she ran the cloth slowly over the outside and then deep inside the glass. She rinsed it and then used the bottom of her apron to dry the jar.
"How about you being the first to contribute? Your daddy's been giving you change for a long time now."
I hated to think that what had happened was going to cost me my penny candies.
Mama held the jar up to the window. Morning sun cut rainbow prisms into the room. She smiled though the smile disappeared quickly.
"I sure do hope this is over soon," she said. "We don't need all these outsiders coming here, disrupting things. Lord knows that nigger Till should have been the last."
Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz writes from New Mexico. This work was first published in The Nubian Chronicles, a now-defunct ezine.
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