When she was a girl, she would sit on her mother’s lap and imagine the pages of books were windows opening onto a world where she could feel as free as in her dreams.
It was a place of transformations. Wolves walked and talked like men. Women breathed beneath the waves.
There was a time, though, when she tasted the bitterness of others? words on her tongue, and came to feel all the stories were traps for her. They wanted to tell her who she was. But they did not know who she was.
She was no Shakespearean heroine, no Juliet, no Ophelia, or Lady Macbeth. She would not allow herself to be poisoned by love, would clutch no silver dagger to her heaving breast with bloodied hands, nor float down a darkened river tangled with weeds.
She was no country ?n western missus, no fairy-tale princess, no tragic victim of magic or love. She wouldn’t never steal nobody’s pickup truck, would not prick her finger on a cursed wheel, not sleep for a hundred years anticipating a kiss.
There was a time when she came to feel all the black codes on the pages of fables and textbooks were tiny, precise cogs rotating in an ancient and rusted clockwork of expectations. The machinery turned and turned. The cut-outs herky-jerked their way across a paper screen: the daughter?humble, cheerful, oppressed; the selfless, smothered mother; the painted, dancing whore; the wicked, finger-pricking rider of broomsticks; the housewife measuring her time in painkillers and gin. She looked in all their passing faces, and never saw her own.
There came a time when she found a different window. It opened inward, facing away from the world’s machine.
Through this window, she could see the transformations inside her. There were wolves in her heart and oceans in her blood. There were poets sleeping in the belly of whales. When she breathed in, she breathed thunderclouds into her brain, and lightning flashed behind her eyes.
When she ate peaches, fleshy maidens removed their veils for her, and sang her lullabies filled with honey and salt. When she walked abroad, she never walked less than one foot above the ground, and when she flew, the moon slipped beneath her dress. When she lay back upon her bed, she rode tigers through rain-wet gardens.
She had stories to tell, and stories to tell. And she told them.