Whatever I Am


Tryon, NC. The sun was shining. The air was sharp and still. The house was sad, shaming, uplifting, bent and rusted and nailed-up with need, pride,lies and truths: Its foundations new, yet so, so old. The boys on the porch of the place next door were listening to Kanye; laughing, drinking beer.

I’d wanted to go to see where she was born. I’d wanted to walk the walk she took to her piano teacher’s; maybe ask the teacher’s ghost what it was like for her being English here, -what it was like trying to get Eunice to do her homework.

I’d wanted to see the hall where they tried to make her parents watch her play from the back row. In my soft, self-centred way, I’d wanted to feel connections between black and white, man and woman; between my country and hers, between her un-belonging and mine. I’d wanted to find signs we — my people — have learned from her life; that we have no desire to go back to the days when she and her parents, and her seven brothers and sisters lived here. I’d wanted to find signs that the flags being waved right now aren’t just flapping sheets of pointless rage, that our hearts and blood and memories have too much in common to let us reverse back down the hill into hell.

We drove home and my daughter played me ‘Four Women’. I wanted to cry for the hurt she shares with the woman who lived in this house. And for the hurt she can never share with her.


Kevin Acott

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