If Cynthia Morrow accepts the oil refinery’s $45,000 buyout, she will forfeit her paternal grandparents’ house and half-acre, her father’s tribute garden, her cherished neighborhood restaurant and pool hall, and the every Saturday breakfasts and yard work she’s become accustomed to sharing with best friend Livonia Toussaint.

Facing the latest and last round of buyouts from a southwest Louisiana oil refinery, Cynthia’s decision to stay has been badly compromised.  Livonia's ten-year-old son's recently diagnosed asthma is worsening and the community's fear of other “issues” is growing.  But after an accident on a neighborhood road forces Waylon DeQuincy, a prominent white ex-mill owner to put down his prized horse, the community’s fate is sealed.  And now that Livonia, some forty years removed of her beloved childhood cross, has left the neighborhood on her redemption-seeking mission with Waylon, a man whose past elicits both sympathy and outrage, Cynthia must cook and serve her way through her day’s grief and guilt, the constant “why-asking,” in an effort at giving the community one last joy-filled Saturday among the oaks and pines, the camellias and azaleas.  A story rooted in the often tremendous faith needed to survive life’s many irreconcilable traumas, What We Do Cherish is inspired by the late 1990’s Mossville, Louisiana, Condea Vista chemical plant buyouts, as chronicled by columnist Joe Matthews in his 1998 The Baltimore Sun article.

An excerpt from Toussaint, formally What We Do Cherish, was printed in Callaloo, Volume 35, number 4, Fall 2012.

Below, Tommy reads (June 15, 2012) from Toussaint, formally What We Do Cherish, in Brown University's Rites and Reason Theatre, in the Department of Africana Studies, hosted by the 2012 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop.




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