a day at hedgebrook(lyn)


before leaving new york, i attended a day of writing, reading and fellowship at hedgebrook(lyn) organized by alums mary armstrong and holly morris--who runs powderkeg, a women writers' collective on flatbush avenue.

we arrived at 10am for tea and fruit and spent the day writing, before dinner and a reading. i'm not sure what i intended to write that day, but a story visited me that has been circling my creative mind for years now, about black women, depression and suicide (heavy stuff). it is something like for colored girls, but different.

i shared a bit of it at our reading, and afterwards one of the participants emailed me saying she used to ride the ferry every weekend and dream of jumping off into the hudson. the honesty of it took my breath away. i have excerpted a few words here. if you also have a story that you would like to share, please email me at: alligatorlegs [dot] gmail [dot] com. --AL.

"Somewhere a black girl stands at the edge of a river. The sun shines; the sailboats float over rippling waves; a rouge-lipped woman blows a man a kiss. The girl sees none of these things. She stares into the river thinking of her life; her lost love; the rotten trees and the putrid-smelling honeysuckle. She is alone, penniless, empty, and her life seems a terrible waste. She whispers into the wind, is this all there is? A fly buzzes by. Nobody hears.

A sweaty, burly man jogs alongside the river. He does not see the black girl's pain, but only how the curve of her full backside cuts a silhouette against the sun. He winks, thinking it a shame for such beauty to go to waste; but she doesn't see.

Removing her sandals neatly, the girl plunges her feet deep into the cool water. The muddy bottom seeps between her toes and makes her smile--happy to feel something else besides this aching in her heart. She walks slowly at first, sliding through the mud, feeling the rocks on the soles of her feet.

She shivers at the cool rush of water, the dampness climbing up her legs. The thought of ending this pain makes her feel, suddenly, like a bird flying. She is free. And this lightness carries her forward until she is running toward the horizon, nearing the buoys that bob like pistons where the river floor drops.

Like a stone, she slips quietly under the water and is gone. As the sailboats sail onward, a butterfly floating over the waves is her only witness."

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