Ligatures

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If words are our best weapon, then Denise Miller’s Ligatures is a full frontal assault on the nation’s apathy. You cannot read this elegiac chronicle of the indifferent, haphazard yet legal murder of black people without knowing in the veins of your conscience that we are all bloodstained. Miller cites and channels: victim and cop, reporter and spectator, medical examiner and mother. And because she is a great soldier of words, we follow Denise Miller straight into battle. We feel “born brown then broken, born brown then bent—born brown then esophagus-threaded through handcuff born brown then bracketed by [hashtag & period].” We see what we have tried so hard not to see—“those people”—the “black and brown bodies that have been named from auction blocks to blogs” who are not us . . . except they are. Ligatures binds us viscerally in an unconscionable, incongruous place where we cannot “scroll past as if this story isn’t ours.” So read it.   – Leeanne Seaver

Ligatures

 

the salt in the water

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I am swaying back and forth over the steam . . . praying to the God of salt in boiling water who keeps the eggshell from cracking.

Today I awakened in a country of unconscionable choice. Deep in the dirt of my DNA there is some Pompeii of knowing what life will be like now. I know what we must do, if we can.

My friends and I text a roll call to see who is standing and how. Nessie wants walking but I’m not sure anything’s got legs anymore, certainly not the popular vote.

Andrew called from Ireland to remind me of my daughter’s heart. I make of list of happinesses: Elise got engaged. Brianna’s little Oliver is a week old now. Cybelle got that job at Western. Mail just dropped through the slot in the box just like any old day. The feeling of my son’s earlobes and the center of his forehead. Gregorian Chants. Bagpipes. To be on the last part of the last chapter and know I’ll make my deadline. The expensive lotion from Taylor. The mermaid stone from Jane. The bird candle from Suzanne, and the birds in Jill’s office. The birds in the airport. Yesterday’s lunch to celebrate my daughter’s first vote in a presidential election that included a woman’s name on the ticket. Here’s to those eggs, and here’s to celebrating before they were broken. And if I bake bread or write thank you notes or make soup, then oxygen will start to flow through this bag of bones again.

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Outside my kitchen window, there is a geesyness of sky and November’s leaf music. The sun still rose over a world that has seen far worse, I tell myself.

I place the three eggs in the pan. I add more salt to the water, less to the wound.

© L. Seaver 11/9/16