FLYING

I fly when I sleep. Not the tatata wing flapping of pigeons and doves. More like the stationary gliding of a plane. My hands are my wings- I run, leap forward chest out, and will myself to fly. The engine that propels me is my mind, so if when my eyes are closed anything bothers or distracts me, I glide for a while, then start to descend sharply and crash. This happens at least one out of every five times. When it does I wake up sad and with a headache. But when I am happy, I soar so high I start to feel breathless....

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A MEMORY THIS SIZE

Some days when I want to forget, an overwhelming guilt envelops me and, as if punishing me for daring to, comes back, fresh, clear – every painful detail. I just read an essay by Marion Winik, who wrote that she has let her stillborn son, Peewee, go because she could not hold on to a sadness that size for very long. It makes sense to me. I read the line over and over again. It sounds clever and practical and I try to say it to myself, to justify letting this memory go without feeling so guilty: I cannot hold on to a sadness this size for very long. It feels dirty when I say it.

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LEARNING GERTRUD

He stood—neck stretched, eyes narrowed—on the thick, recently mowed grass behind the barbed wire fence without which the airport taxi drivers might have rushed onto the smooth tarmac all the way out to the planes to ask passengers if they wanted a ride to town. As the weary KLM passengers, just in from Amsterdam, descended from the plane, he moved closer, peering through the wire to see if any of the white women were Gertrud. She had left Lagos when her visa expired eight months ago, her slant green eyes full of tears that never rolled down her cheeks but waited to be dabbed and her mouth full of trembling promises to return as soon as she got the visa thing sorted out.

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