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Salvage the Bones Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
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“it is the way that all girls who only know one boy move. Centered as if the love that boy feels for them anchors them deep as a tree's roots, holds them still as the oaks, which don't uproot in hurricane wind. Love as certainty.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“I will not let him see until none of us have any choices about what can be seen, what can be avoided, what is blind, and what will turn us to stone.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“And it was easier to let him keep on touching me than ask him to stop, easier to let him inside than to push him away, easier than hearing him ask me, "Why not?" It was easier to keep quiet and take it than to give him an answer.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“And I get up because it is the only thing I can do.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“And then I get up because it is the only thing I can do. I step out of the ditch and brush the ants off because it is the only thing I can do. I follow Randall around the house because it is the only thing I can do; if this is strength, if this is weakness, this is what I do. I hiccup, but tears still run down my face. After Mama died, Daddy said, What are you crying for? Stop crying. Crying ain’t going to change anything. We never stopped crying. We just did it quieter. We hid it. I learned how to cry so that almost no tears leaked out of my eyes, so that I swallowed the hot salty water of them and felt them running down my throat. This was the only thing that we could do. I swallow and squint through the tears, and I run.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“I will tie the glass and stone with string, hang the shards above my bed, so that they will flash in the dark and tell the story of Katrina, the mother that swept into the Gulf and slaughtered. Her chariot was a storm so great and black the Greeks would say it was harnessed to dragons. She was the murderous mother who cut us to the bone but left us alive, left us naked and bewildered as wrinkled newborn babies, as blind puppies, as sun-starved newly hatched baby snakes. She left us a dark Gulf and salt burned land. She left us to learn to crawl. She left us to salvage. Katrina is the mother we will remember until the next mother with large, merciless hands, committed to blood, comes.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“In every one of the Greeks' mythology tales, there is this: a man chasing a woman, or a woman chasing a man. There is never a meeting in the middle.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“To give life...is to know what's worth fighting for. And what's love.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“China. She will return, standing tall and straight, the milk burned out of her. She will look down on the circle of light we have made in the Pit and she will know that I have kept watch, that I have fought. China will bark and call me sister. In the star-suffocated sky, there is a great waiting silence.

She will know that I am a mother.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“I can see her, chin to chest, straining to push Junior out, and Junior snagging on her insides, grabbing hold of what he caught on to try to stay inside her, but instead he pulled it out with him when he was born.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
tags: birth
“Would a human egg let itself be seen?”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“I realized that if I was going to assume the responsibility of writing about my home, I needed narrative ruthlessness. I couldn't dull the edges and fall in love with my characters and spare them. Life does not spare us.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“My voice sounds like I have a cold, all the mucus from my crying lodged in my nose. A train, Mama said. Camille came, and the wind sounded like trains.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“the air that had been still before swoops and tunnels through the clearing, raising dust, making the boys close their eyes. Maybe Daddy is right; maybe Katrina is coming for us.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“If the scrapes were on the front of our knees, she would put our dirty feet in the middle of her chest to clean the wounds, and we could feel her heart beating, strong as the thud of the ground when we walked, through our soles.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“Junior, stop being orner.” It’s what Mama used to say to us when we were little, and I say it to Junior out of habit. Daddy used to say it sometimes, too, until he said it to Randall one day and Randall started giggling, and then Daddy figured out Randall was laughing because it sounded like ‘horny’. About a year ago I figured out what it was supposed to be after coming across its parent on the vocabulary list for my English class with Miss Dedeaux: ‘ornery’. It made me wonder if there were other words Mama mashed like that. They used to pop up in my head sometime when I was doing the stupidest things: ‘tetrified’ when I was sweeping the kitchen and Daddy came in dripping beer and kicking chairs. ‘Belove’ when Manny was curling pleasure from me with his fingers in mid-swim in the pit. ‘Freegid’ when I was laying in bed in November, curled to the wall like I was going to burrow into another cover or I was making room for a body to lay behind me to make me warm.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“There is laughter, shrill calls. Everyone is flirting, saying in nudges and jokes and blushing what they would do in private.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“Vines catch my arms, my head; we tear through until we break out into the clearing before the fence, the field, the barn, the house, and I drop to my knees, and Randall leans back as if he would fall, both of us breathing hard, looking wet and newly born.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“I will tie the glass and stone with string, hang the shards above my bed, so that they will flash in the dark and tell the story of Katrina, the mother that swept into the Gulf and slaughtered. Her chariot was a storm so great and black the Greeks would say it was harnessed to dragons. She was the murderous mother who cut us to the bone but left us alive, left us naked and bewildered as wrinkled newborn babies, as blind puppies, as sun-starved newly hatched baby snakes. She left us a dark Gulf and salt-burned land. She left us to learn to crawl. She left us to salvage. Katrina is the mother we will remember until the next mother with large, merciless hands, committed to blood, comes.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“Seeing him broke the cocoon of my rib cage, and my heart unfurled to fly.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“And then she would put her hand over the bird’s face like she was hiding it from seeing something, and then she would grab and twist. Break the neck. Slice the head off on the stump.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“There is a movement behind my breast that feels like someone has turned a hose on full blast, and the water that has been baking in the pump in the summer heat floods out, scalding. This is love, and it hurts.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“Away from the Pit, the pine trees reach skyward, their green-needled tops stand perfectly still. Once in a while, they shiver in the breeze that moves across their tops. They seem to nod to something that I cannot hear, and I wonder if it is the hum of José out in the Gulf, singing to himself.”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
“We on our backs staring at the stars above, Talking about what we going to be when we grow up, I said what you wanna be? She said, “Alive.” —OUTKAST, “DA ART OF STORYTELLIN’ (PART I),” AQUEMINI”
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones