If she put her head down and didn’t listen to a goddamn thing anyone else said, she could tell her story. If she covered all the mirrors and didn’t listen to a goddamn thing that woman said, she could tell her story. If she turned off the radio, BBC, rape in the Congo, shooting down unarmed black teenagers in the US, the falling away like the crash in a heart that stops … of mammoth swathes of ice, of blue cities, into the waters that are either endless or draining off the surface of the cracked land, the parched world, she could tell her story. If she put her head down and didn’t listen to the goddamn silence, the loudest goddamn silence yet in her growing decades that started with goddamn silence punctuated by screams and blows and something scalding and something that went inside her like it owned her, and it would, she could tell her story. If she bought herself back with work, with sex with dance with food, with good fats and low blood pressure and a lost sister who got here first and blamed her for history, she could tell her story. If she put her head down, not like a beaten whelp, but careful, drones overhead, but smart, leaking nothing until the right moment, out of sight but not out of her mind, tucked to her desk and to the holy books of fire, that went down into the mines or out into the cities of tragic histories beating people up like dominoes, more black than white, but spots of ivory falling along with the immense re-enactments they call news, she could write her own story. If no one asks, she could tell her own story because no one would expect it to be anything but what it is. If the sea asked, she could tell. If her goddamn number shut up, she could tell. If she could find her name in the corners of the floors she scrubbed, she could tell her story. If she could find her shoes, she could run.
Anya Achtenberg is an award-winning author of Blue Earth (a novel), The Stories of Devil-Girl (a novella), and The Stone of Language and I Know What the Small Girl Knew (poetry books). History Artist, a novel-in-progress, earned a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. As Director of Arts Focus on Cuba, she organizes journeys to Cuba for writers, artists, filmmakers, educators, and others. See more at http://anyaachtenberg.com/