You Know

You Know . . . 64 years ago, September 30, 1950, when I was 3 years old, my mother, Georgia Herron, my father, Oscar Herron, and I awoke in horror to discover Gershon Herron, my 6 week old brother, dead and blue in the cradle. I wrote the following chapter, “You Know” in honor and memory of this lost brother. My living brother, Smitty Herron, had not yet been born. Here is “You Know” – my lost brother entwined with the middle passage and Dante.

You Know (Chapter 43 of Asenath and the Origin of Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron)

You know that midway through the journey of our life you lose your self in the midst of a dark ocean
You know that the stink is from your putrefying body
You know that you are dead
You know that they are loosing you from chains
You know that they are taking you away from your mother
You know that you are moving up in their hands
You hear your mother screaming below the deck
You breathe without lungs
You shiver from cold you cannot feel
You shudder in an ocean you cannot splash
You taste bitter sharks who eat your death
You sway as globs of flesh churning in deep water
You move your bones that are not bones anymore
You see with blanked eyes that you are many
You hear the voices of all who sleep in this bed
You cannot sleep
This bed is the Atlantic Ocean
This bed is the Middle Passage
You know that the Middle Passage is your grave
You know that you are one of fifteen million
You hear a woman turning pages in a library
You know that you are far from Africa
You know that you are far from the Americas
You know that a woman is in a library reading about the Middle Passage
You know that the woman is your sister
You know that your sister is thinking about you
You know that your sister is your mother’s descendant
You grieve that you have no descendant of your own body
You rise from the ocean
You float water until you come to her
You float air until you come to her
You descend through air to stand beside her
You call your sister
You bend toward your sister
You ask your sister to return toward you tonight
You whisper your story to your sister

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