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A. Van Jordan

A. Van Jordan

A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise (Tia Chucha Press, 2001), which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award and was selected for the Book-of-the-Month Club by the Academy of American Poets. His second book, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004), was awarded an Anisfield-Wolf Award and listed as one of the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times. Quantum Lyrics (2007) and The Cineaste (2013) were published by W.W. Norton & Co. Jordan was also awarded a Whiting Writers Award, Pushcart Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship and a United States Artist Fellowship. He is the Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor at Rutgers University-Newark.

Sycorax


Young, Pregnant, on the Run
March 5, 2012

One might call my fleeing an expatriation, but it simply was a psychic escape, a way to free the mind to allow the body to follow suit. Then, just as I came to feel good about myself, my seducer said, You won't make it out there, as I waved goodbye, already beyond his reach. With no confusion about what I felt, his words rang discordant: As a distant observer, I wonder, how does one perceive a hand waving goodbye? One of those gestures read, from a distant gaze, as either a great sadness or quiet ecstasy, the goodbye; either the tearful end or a fresh beginning. From a distance, one never knows whether one simply needs a bit of time away or if they are, in fact, escaping some oppression. All of these can be true within the waver of the hand. In that sense, a good goodbye should begin with a yearning. Even at the outset, the desire to return to, or, just as easily, of getting beyond the grasp of another can come from within us—springing from the same neuroscience of the mind. Escaping can be as intoxicating as the initial longing to couple with another.


*

For two nights the wind blew from the south and trees bent over defeated like epiphanies on the faces of bedridden old men. The townspeople got up the next morning to head to their factories, to tend to their crops; children headed off to school, but roads were covered with tree branches, with stones, and with trash everywhere. Roofs were lifted off shingled homes. The air smelled of coming rain, which brought more fear: rain with the wind would be the end of this world. Just imagine, all of this, such a large hand from the sky to pluck one small child from my womb.

To spare the town, I decided to leave that morning.

The Devil that he was, he had no power over the sea. He watched me sail away, impotent to do anything about my waving hand. I could feel the baby kick as soon as we took to sea, and I knew my baby felt free, full of pleasure. He felt the town stretch farther from him. When we passed the first buoy, I heard the ship's whistle blow, felt it deep in my belly. Be not afraid, dear child, I whispered, the island is full of noises. Sleep. Dream.
 

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