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256 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1982
The Rosenbergs’ struggle became synonymous for me with being able to live in this country at all, with being able to survive in hostile surroundings. But my feelings of connection with most of the people I met in progressive circles, were as tenuous as those I had with my co-workers at the Health Center. I could imagine these comrades, Black and white, among whom color and racial differences could be openly examined and talked about, nonetheless one day asking me accusingly, “Are you or have you ever been a member of a homosexual relationship?” For them, being gay was “bourgeois and reactionary,” a reason for suspicion and shunning. Besides, it made you “more susceptible to the FBI.”
It was in Mexico City those first few weeks that I started to break my life-long habit of looking down at my feet as I walked along the street. There was always so much to see, and so many interesting and open faces to read, that I practiced holding my head up as I walked, and the sun felt hot and good on my face. Wherever I went, there were brown faces of every hue meeting mine, and seeing my own color reflected upon the streets in such great numbers was an affirmation for me that was brand-new and very exciting. I had never felt visible before, nor even known I lacked it. […]
It was here in the breathtaking dawns and quick hill-twilights of Cuernavaca that I learned it really is easier to be quiet in the woods. One morning I came down the hill toward the square at dawn to catch my ride to the District. The birds suddenly cut loose all around me in the unbelievable sweet warm air. I had never heard anything so beautiful and unexpected before. I felt shaken by the waves of song. For the first time in my life, I had an insight into what poetry could be. I could use words to recreate that feeling, rather than to create a dream, which was what so much of my writing had been before.
Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me, where I loved some invaluable piece of myself apart from meso different that I had to stretch and grow in order to recognize her. And in that growing, we came to separation, that place where work begins. Another meeting. […]
Zami. A Carriacou name for women who work together as friends and lovers.
[…] Once home was a long way off, a place I had never been to but knew out of my mother’s mouth. I only discovered its latitudes when Carriacou was no longer my home.
There it is said that the desire to lie with other women is a drive from the mother’s blood.
“Each one of us had been starved for love for so long that we wanted to believe that love, once found, was all-powerful. We wanted to believe that it could give word to my inchoate pain and rages; that it could enable them to face the world and get a job; that it could free our writings, cure racism, end homophobia and adolescent acne.”