Sunday, July 28, 2013

28 July 2013

Dionne Brand [UofTMagazine]

She is a stray child left here because the woman has breasts that look like money and her hands grow fat yams and dasheen. A stray, wandering as strays wander, their eyes or fancy hitting on a piece of wood, a door, the smell of fish or meat, wandering until they linger and forget where they were going, or until they remember another smell or patch of yard, another house; until in the middle of remembering they forget and alight where they are; a stray wandering until something struck her about the house or the samaan tree in front. Perhaps tilting her head to catch a certain light through her lashes, then noticing her cheek angle to the plain of the door. Again, perhaps the woman once knew the mother, perhaps the pumpkin vine running down the hill sprung her, perhaps they were passing friends, her mother and the woman, or perhaps there was never any formality or acquaintance. Perhaps her mother forgot her there, walking up the hill, just forgot her, letting her hand go to point the way, move a branch, look at a nettle pricking her foot, just forgot her. Her mother, one midday, resting at the woman’s yard, flicking sweat from her face and then turning up the hill again forgetting the bundle she had laid down . . . this was how people lived here, passing children and food and necessity and word onto each other. Here, there was no belonging that was singular, no need to store up lineage or count it; all this blood was washed thick and thin, rinsed and rinsed and rubbed and licked and stained; all this blood gashed and running like rain, lavered and drenched and sprinkled and beat upon clay beds and cane grass. No belonging squared off by a fence, a post, or a gate. Not in blood, not here, here blood was long and not anything that ran only in the vein. Every stranger was looked over for signs and favour. If you came upon this place suddenly, curious gazes would search your face for family. Hmm, mouths would turn down in recognition; there was always something for someone, long dead or long gone, long lost, long time, in the faces: “That one went away when?” “She reach back now, oui.” “She self.” Away, not necessarily this earth but away; eyes that favoured a dead soul, ears; messages from the dead in the way a thumb was sucked, the way a head inclined, braid hanging; there was the way a baby leaned or turned her head, the way a newborn’s eyes looked as if she’d been here already.
That one Virgie?”
That one Dan?”
That one Estelle.”
No, God, that one is Adela self. But where she come from now? En’t she leave this place?”
Look nah this child is the spitting image, spitting spitting image of Adela.”
She appeared in straight-backed, stiff-kneed children who wanted to walk before they could crawl, in babies who refused food and died within a week of their arrival, their lips pursed and rigored, in children who wouldn’t keep their clothes on, wanted to take them off to go walking in the big road, in two-year-olds in love with an axle, bolting in front of a lorry, and in forgetfulness, the way gazing out a window a girl would let the rice burn, the way walking up to the standpipe a woman would catch up in a conversation and then stare at the empty bucket curiously, the way wanting her back scratched a woman would call out every name that she’d given her children except the one she’d meant to call. No, no, belonging was not singular. They were after belonging. Long past. They had had enough of it anyway, their bellies were runny with it. Enough of love too. So much of it that they sucked their teeth at it. Useless. That’s what it was. Unnecessary. Passing. Worse, you couldn’t eat it. Never helped anything. It never brought anyone back from the dead or from the living. And this was the heart of it and the same. What would it matter if the girl burning the rice at the window knew her great-great-grandmother? Nothing. . . .

She wants to tear them with her teeth, hate is an extra head, another heart. God, she knows, is deaf, male and graceless. A man you don’t know bends you against a wall, a wall in a room, your room. He says this is the procedure, he says you have no rights here, he says I can make it easier for you if I want, you could get sent back. His dick searches your womb. He says you girls are all the same, whores, sluts, you’ll do anything. His dick is a machete, a knife, all the sharp things found on a kitchen table, all the killing things found in a tool shed. He says don’t think about moving, I can find you. He shakes the blood off his knife and leaves. This time they searched her skin, this time they found nothing and took it, too. Elizete, flat against the immense white wall, the continent. She is drawn just so, to navigate, to scarecrow such a surface, immense, flat like the world now drawn just so, to navigate the air, to scarecrow the world, flat like pain, sharp like the world again, her hands feel her mouth, spread-eagled against the immense white wall, the continent. Such a movement, insistent, deeper than will. Why does her body move now, why unpeel itself from the wall, why walk to the sink, why feel her lips, why turn the radio on? The mind cannot hold this killing. She escapes to dancing, she makes a gift of her teeth to chatter, bury it in laughter, say this is the rhythm of the world.

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