Academic journal article African American Review

Bluebird

Academic journal article African American Review

Bluebird

Article excerpt

Sanctuary: bathroom locked, skeleton key in one hand, works in the other, she contemplated flushing her fix, the toilet bowl redemptive as a cathedral's font. She remembered her fingers landing, swan-like, on holy water. God bless the child whose tears are lullabies.

First blood. Raped by a neighbor, she scrubbed stained linens as if they were marble steps and her fingers, boar bristles. Eyes smarting from Clorox fumes, she scoured until her palms were raw and the tattered sheet, tinged brown. Her mama beat her anyhow.

Branded wayward by the court. Stretching a rubber strap, she tensed when it snapped against her palm. How numb she had become. Four cloistered years, inside iron gates, behind the confessional's trefoil screen, she learned only that she was unworthy. Daydreaming in the belfry, she caught

glints of sunlight in rosary beads, rainbows darting across cracked plaster as she whispered Hail Marys. At mass, when the sisters chanted "De Profundis," she hummed a blues-baby's lament. In votive candles' amber glow, she prayed for home. "Gloomy Sunday" all week long. Her voice trailed off

somewhere she could not revisit. The convent crept back as cops read her the writ. …

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