Cover Photo: Photo courtesy of Mishal Ibrahim/Unsplah
Photo courtesy of Mishal Ibrahim/Unsplah

If You Don’t Mind the Drowning

There are times you have legs. Mostly, you do not. You smile with teeth grown sharp from gnawing at chains that refuse to release.

imsorryimsorryimsorry.

You smile with teeth grown sharp from gnawing at chains that refuse to release. 

Beneath the surface, you cannot speak. It doesn’t matter. For children new to the language, you reach out and gently tap against their chest to the beat of what’s never abandoned you until they comprehend. They’ve heard of creatures in the water, things to placate or avoid, but they trust you. It’s the adults that are different, always asking where they’re supposed to go. They wait for God and flashes of bright light. They are used to being of clay incompatible with the water and watch their bodies disintegrate believing this is it.

lying

and

I had you in the tub,

The boys are teenagers, with longer legs and fathers with even longer reaches—the type that can get two little Black girls in trouble.

“Delia, Cory!” one of the boys whoops, stepping off his ATV. He’s at least seventeen with a crooked jaw and jagged teeth to match. “I haven’t seen you all summer. I missed you guys.”

oh, you have hair like my mother.

Vanessa Taylor (@bacontribe) is a freelance writer based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She's interested in using a multi disciplinary approach to social justice, from on-the-grounds activism to finding accessible ways to educate community, with writing as a way to make sense of it all. Her work has appeared in Racked, Teen Vogue, Rise Up Review, and elsewhere. She is currently an Arts & Culture co-editor for Sapelo Square and a fellow for Muslim Wellness' inaugural DREL fellowship class.