In the early 80s, I spent two years in a writing workshop that Toni Cade Bambara held in her Atlanta home. Anybody in the community who was writing was welcome. I adored the opportunity to sit at this great writer’s feet who knew so much about so much. In 1990, she moved to Philadelphia and was later diagnosed with cancer. We talked on the long-distance line when we could. I would always ask if there was anything she needed that I could send. She usually answered no. But in our last conversation, which took place one week before she crossed over, she held the phone a little longer. “Maybe,” she said, “maybe you could send some paper and what about one of those fat juicy pens?”

Originally published in Meridians vol. 3, no. 2, 2003.

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