Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Warrior Women.


Professor Williams wears her degrees on her office wall like armor and a shield. She is a writing warrior; two published books, editor of an anthology or two and on her third professorship. A soldier in her war, I am ecstatic at hearing that my combat is somehow equivalent. She says I remind her of her at this age.

Twenty-three, journal in tow, story on the mind and prose on my heart. I smile.

I’m remembering every female professor’s office in pieces. Professor Brown with her collection of plays and Broadway smile. Professor Guzman and a pantheon of bindings that would make Greek philosophers tremble. Dr. Mitchell, tri-lingual and cobweb locks. She jokes and says there’s a story in every one of her grays. I’ve only got three grays.

Story One.

Vinny wore a poem on his tongue and malice in his palm. Touched me where it hurt. Traded his words and his pedophile nature for fifteen years in a cell and a son he’ll never see. Rashaad held me near the LIRR train tracks, over the yellow line, as the train was coming; shaking me. He said if I ever left him he would die. He kept that promise.

Gunfight.

Warren, Ivy League and drag racer, gave 2am phone conversations—collision of the minds. He left my heart wrapped around a tree. Sometimes my dreams still convince me he’ll be on the other end of the phone under my pillow in the morning. Breathing. “Wake up Erica, you’ve got to get to class.” Instead of a phone call that he’s gone.

Somehow, I’ve convinced myself that love is a scar. These scars. If you catch me doing it, love, stifle me.

Story Two.

Erica discovers that lattes are better than sex: A good latte, the buzz of a café or bookstore and the notion that you are above everything outside.

Enamored with children who look to me for metaphors, simile and smile. I pass out journals like candy. Explain the difference of the roll of a BIC and a Pentel. Say the prose is that much sweeter when you’re writing with something your notebook will thank you for.

Blue line avenger, margin crosser, crazy or neat handwriting; I’ve discovered that writing almost takes everything away. Almost prepares for its departure. Almost convinces me that I can do this alone. Forever. Almost.

Story Three.

I am great.

Got corazon for a soul and Meringue for a step. Beatbox lunchroom ciphers with seventh graders, noveling with a friend at the beach, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with Justin; showing his nine year old palm how to touch the constellations.

I’ve started framing these moments. Started to Dewey decimalize my books, placing my degrees on my office wall and showcase that I’m someone worth knowing. Blue says I’m nesting. I tell her I ain’t no bird. We laugh. Frame that too.

Now I’m sitting at this desk, surrounded by all the good in my life and I’m wondering how all this shield and armor got on my wall. I’m in the same war as my professor’s, slaying keyboards with Spalding fingers. I’m avenging every little girl who’s ever had to grow up too fast, every pen that’s run out of ink and every eclipse never witnessed.

I’m avenging my godchildren.

Godchildren who run up to me and hug my legs because they’re convinced that’s all of me they can reach. They are wrong. There’s this stirring and churning that my bowl of a heart does when they’re near. Somehow my book holding arms turn to cradles unconsciously. I know all the right things to say to get them to laugh. I am run, play and can-I-stay-by-Auntie.

Suddenly I realize what is missing from our fight. There are no wedding rings, no pictures of laughing children and no time to get home. Reading and writing have become our children. Alice Walker decided women better suited her. Nikki Giovanni told me that love used to be a song. That’s why she’s a poet.

I am afraid that I will never have the courage to leave this war. I am afraid that this shield and armor will become too heavy to bear. I am afraid of being a Knight. No shining. No stars. No moon. No sunrise.

A chance to start over again.

-riv-

3 comments:

Little Miss Knobody said...

Amazing! I'm always in awe whenever I read your writings. Hurry up and finish that book!

anyatummy said...

you're a fantastic writer. i like this.

Ciara said...

So true. I have been struggling with this for a while now. It is always crazy to find someone that is thinking similiarly. Your writing has great connectivity...