If one day you desire to find me, don’t look for me here. Search for me in the quiet space, that place where only you and I can dwell. There will be no more hunger for my body but instead a hunger for my soul. There will be no more pretense, only naked and raw authenticity, our minds and secrets disrobed forever. In that moment I would become you and you would become me, and there would be no more hiding from each other, because we cannot hide from ourselves.
Flesh to mind, mind to flesh. Syncopating, melding into one mind, yet still shapeshifting between the objective and subjective, the singular and the plural; the me, the you, the us. Shapeshifting for survival.
No, don’t look for me here. Search for me in the quiet places, on the planet of my mind where only you and I can breathe and dwell; shapeshifting to exist.
I look back on my days in the United States Army and remember what so many of us women went through during basic training and AIT. Our basic training was during the height of the summer; we carried rucksacks and tall black weapons, wore black leather boots that initially were too heavy and camouflage uniforms too weighty and hot. These things bonded us. We were gassed together, and watched as snot and spit ran from every orifice. We realized in that moment that no matter our race, our bodies reacted the same. We were all sick and ugly that day, red-faced and lungs heavy.
The training made us strong, even when some of us wanted to be weak and retreat into femininity. I made it through and from there became a reservist. After three years I went on active duty, with my first duty station in West Germany. It was a wondrous experience; the people, the food, the culture, the technology, it was all superior to America in my young 21 year old eyes.
I was there when the Wall came down and the country unified. I watched as shoe-sized cars with suitcases stacked taller than most small businesses pass through, heading to meet long lost family, heading to meet almost forgotten friends, and many more heading to meet an unpredictable future and a new unexpected destiny. Some would decide not to leave; they were home, but now free. I witnessed it all in utter amazement; I was there for a world changing historical event.
I wanted to stay, but when my time was up, fear sent me back to America. By this time I had a four-month old baby girl in tow, born on the soil of West Germany.
I look back on my Army days and realize that the memories are bittersweet. I neither gush over the experience nor rail against it. The experience was what it was. I see the world through a different lens now. I am here.
i collect beliefs and put them inside glass jars, rubber sealed and sometimes placed in the sun. i shake them to see if they will blend. some converge, others diverge. all are creations living inside us, changing us, moving us to imagine the seemingly unimaginable. each belief remembers its birth, others remember birthing nations; others remember death. i collect them all. they live in the many corners of my home and mind, atop shelves, inside cabinets, under beds and pillows, between books, beside memories, inside fears, under joys. still others remain in the sun or in dark basements. they wait for us. they remain.
One of my advisors a year ago encouraged me to write a memoir based on a writing prompt during one of our residency workshops. He was so enthralled by what I had written within the ten minutes given, he promptly shared his excitement with my previous advisor, who accosted me at our next workshop.
I have never thought about writing a memoir. Who the hell am I? I never imagined I had anything interesting to share. The writing prompt was meant to draw out a past memory, nothing more. But when he insisted that I consider the memoir after what I wrote, I began to toy with the idea.
Some of you have read the very short opening of my piece. The overall piece is now nearly 100 pages. For both those who have read the opening and those who have not, I’d be interested to know if you read what I’ve shared below (what I wrote during the workshop), would you be curious and want to read more?
Be honest. I have thick skin.
I was born beneath Cuba, across the waters of the West Indies on an island that lives and breathes Bob Marley. It was 1967. While papa, my grandfather, was mending the house he built with his bare hands, civil rights marches were happening in “foreign” the place the locals called America. As King, Jr. lay dead, murdered by the mindset of the majority, I learned to walk on hot stones. The light of a man went out. I was oblivious to this then. I lived in a place where electricity and running water and indoor plumbing didn’t reach us. The outhouse was dark at night. But my uncle would take me there sometimes. At other times the chimmy, as my grandmother called it, would be pulled out from under the bed, squatted over, then slid back filled with yellow waste that reminded us of our simple life.
I was small and grass blade thin but I remember the mangoes and jackfruit and star apples and ackee and ginepes and the flowers I used to make jewelry, little necklaces and bracelets, bright and red and beautiful. I want to remember the name of that flower, but time sends memories away to places we can’t find.
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
The waters are not blue. They are the mirror for the royal skies that look down at an elegant white-blue swan reflecting off the mercurial lakes of a thousand lazy yesterdays. The swan glides across the time engorged waters, filled with stories of ancestral swans, regal, majestic. White feathers tinted to match the coming dusk and darkening waters. It rises above its own elegance. We are spellbound by the quiet and peace it exudes.
i want you to know how sorry i am that i could not save you. maybe it was never my job. i don’t know. all i know is that i wanted to see you flourish in a world filled with people fighting their way toward extinction. i wanted to see you transform this place into the paradise you live inside your dreams.
i want you to know that the god inside you is immortal and waiting for you to see her. you won’t need a mirror when you decide to look her in the eyes. you will be seeing inside self.
i want to tell you something more.
we are one, and all our dreams meld into each other, folding over time and space until they are inseparable. our dreams un-begin and un-end atop and inside a circle. in this place, we are one. always.
My DNA has warned me that if I keep on with this nonsense about growing out my natural hair without locs, there will be hell to pay. I get death threat-like whispers from my cells that I need to restart my locs, or else.
This is a trying time, when the body actively participates in dictating aesthetics. And almost violently invading mind and soul to the point of unrest.
Like elephants, my cells’ memories are keen and strong. They want “their” locs back.
I no longer remember who I am, nor why I am. Inside this foreign skin I breathe. I inhale the world I’ve wished for in far away dreams and exhale the world I exist in, bedeviled by those who swim in blood red ego.
I am wanting yesterday, packed up to take with me into tomorrow. It is in that place ahead where I’ll find what I seek. I am wanting.
When all is said and done, we are all rendered mute.
Death does not care about our feelings nor opinions about our political leanings, religious beliefs, the latest fashion fails, even our existence. It is the great silencer. And one day it will silence our opinions and feelings, every thought.
All that will live on is an idea. Hope only for the greatest of our ideas to infect those who live on after us.
Burn with anger, woman. Your fire voice was temporarily extinguished with water, but you did not let it drown you. You turned everything that touched you to steam. The destroyers dissipated into the air, mixed in with the ancestors who lost their way and told un-truths about the place of woman. They now mourn their ignorance. They are gone, in form and thought, the ideas losing footing and the voices fading, with those few unenlightened left who are unable to grasp what is needed to survive the next great wave of time. They say there are 2,000 years in each season, and the patriarchy that has almost dried up mother’s milk is coming to an end.
The clouds interlace fingers seeking prayer, an impassioned supplication to the un-gods. They spread across skies gathering stories of un-time, spaces inside cycles that collect memories we will never touch, nor taste. Nor see. Clouds beseech the un-gods, begging for intervention. But the gods are children of a lesser world, Earth merely a blue and green ball in their sand, useless castles jutting toward the sky. They play. And laugh. But the clouds do not laugh. They watch as fingers interlace, knees bruise from centuries of thanking. And begging. The un-souls want to return to spirit. But tears are not the answer. The gods mistake them for rain. The gods toss fists full of sand to the Earth for those with the bruised knees who stand only to survive this un-World. The clouds watch and wonder, where are the real gods? The ones with love and power; and the desire to stop the pain, change the Earth channel, frequency, so that the violence does not outweigh the peace. So that potential is realized in the tomorrow. Change the channel now, so the un-World can shift into an awakening we can touch. The clouds drop tears upon the sandbox. Their prayers go unanswered. Their gods enjoy Reality Earth, because Reality TV isn’t where the real drama lives. So to soothe their unrest, the clouds cry down on us. Their tears bring growth to forgotten parts of the un-World. Maybe they are the gods we’ve been waiting for. Maybe their tears, like holy water, will cast out the evil that lives inside this un-World. Maybe.
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