from EXAQUA [in Zong!,]




In Zong!, M. NourbeSe Philip writes “Some—all the poems—need a great deal of space around them—as if there is too much cramping around them, as if they need to breathe.” In the first of Nine Stories, a man touches the tender sole of a boy’s foot. The boy runs out to the water then disappears. There are certain words to describe certain waves. Fugitive. Objects are not fugitive, the waves carrying them are. I’ve flown over the Pacific Ocean once—when my family moved to California when I was six. I’ve had my cards read, also only once, with the CHARIOT card blocking one thing from another. It was many years ago and I was maybe drunk and worse, the boy reading me the cards was someone who I was so stupidly in love with that my brain broke when we were together. I was all heart. He pointed his finger to the CHARIOT card and said something about how there must be something locked with the migration when I was six, something that still needed unlocking. He was right. He married and divorced his then-girlfriend and how he has two kids. She lives in one state, he lives in another. Some of that is still true. I arrive on the page, messy and edgeless. 

From Documents. Copyright © 2019 by Jan-Henry Gray. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions.