Dondrie Burnham

Writer. Creator. Shapeshifter.

Nevertheless, She Persisted.

She opens her eyes a few moments before her alarm.  She is anxious for what the day holds and not quite rested from a lifetime of womanhood.  Nevertheless, she persists.   A born juggler, she tosses mother, wife, politician and self.  Hoping they carry equal weight, hoping they stay in balance.  Occasionally, she drops a ball and watches it roll - ricocheting against the corners of the room.  The sound reverberates. She knows her humanity will be viewed as failure of not only herself, but of her sex.  Nevertheless, she persists.

She opens her eyes to the sound of screaming.  She rapidly runs through the checklist in her mind. Dishes: Check.  Laundry: Check.  Groceries: Check. What has she forgotten?  How will she be punished?  How badly will it hurt? Will she die tonight? She had heard America was the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Yet, she feels more afraid and more caged than ever.  If she can make it out of this, she’ll do better.  She is hanging on by a wisp of thread and there will be no one to hear her and if she leaves the house tomorrow no one will see her; no one will notice. Nevertheless, she persists.

She opens her eyes and for a moment she doesn’t know where she is.  She’s groggy and she’s sore and she’s alone.  Where are friends?  Whose bedroom is this? Where are her panties? What did she do? What’s the last thing she remembers? She remembers getting dressed with him in mind; she remembers wanting to be kissed. She vaguely remembers being led into this room. Was it him? Who did she give her virginity to?  Was it stolen? How did she let this is happen?  She stumbles to the mirror and checks herself for, what? Evidence? To make sure she’s not dreaming?  She pinches herself. It hurts and it’s satisfying.  She goes to the bathroom and her blood confirms her fear.   Is this what a whore feels like?  Is this what this feels like?  She goes downstairs and she hides her face and she exits.  She waits for the sinkhole to swallow her whole but it never appears.  Nevertheless, she persists.

She opens her eyes promptly at 4:30am.  She needs to finish her homework before the baby wakes up.  She hopes Elia sleeps late today.  ‘Please, just sleep till six.  I’ll give you anything’.  The essay finally starts to flow when she hears her baby’s laughter.  She’s always so happy in the morning.  She greets her daughter with a tired smile which fades at the sight of the urine soaked crib.  She can’t be late today. Mr. Perez already hates her.  If she leaves it her mother will lecture her and threaten to kick her out again.  If she strips it and puts it in the bag it will soak through and stink and be much more work later.  She puts a Pop Tart in the toaster, gives her daughter a good wipe down and strips the bed.  She checks the clock on the microwave and realizes she’s going to be late.  She stares at her unfinished essay as she shares the Pop Tart with Elia.  She looks at the soaked sheets and mattress.  She stares at the ceiling and imagines what life would be like if she had any help.  She wonders what she will tell Elia if he asks about her father.  She knows she must not tell her that he was her grandfather.  She doesn’t want her to look at her with pity and revulsion like her mother does. She knows she will not make it to school today. She knows she may not graduate. She knows she wants a better life. Nevertheless, she persists.

I open my eyes each day and I contemplate my life.  I sometimes contemplate the word ‘victim’.  It has a negative connotation but it has the right amount of consonants to feel good in your mouth. Try it. How much victimhood do I own? Victim of violent crime: Check.  Victim of sexual harassment and assault: Check. Victim of White Supremacy: Check.  Victim of law enforcement: Check.  Victim of socioeconomic warfare: Check.  Victim of one of the worst education systems in the country: Check. Victim of Segregation: Check.

I contemplate this particular body and this skin.  I contemplate my weaknesses and my strengths.  I contemplate my contributions to society; I contemplate my sacrifice of self-love, in pursuit of being the best and brightest.  I contemplate my desire for perfection.  I contemplate my capacity for compassion.  I contemplate my ancestors and their fears and sacrifice.  Their prayers and hopes and dreams for me.  I ruminate on all the unwarranted hair touching and silent judgment; the look of surprise when I share space and commonality.  I contemplate that there’s a show called ‘Throwing Shade’ that doesn’t feature any black people.  I contemplate the word ‘woke’ being repeatedly used by an old white lady on the news at the Women’s March.  I contemplate how some people are so outraged at the refugee crisis when not so many years ago we had refugees in this very country floating on rooftops and being raped in a stadium.  I’ve already spent a lifetime resisting. Nevertheless, I persist.

COPYRIGHT 2015-2016. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.