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Anarcha: J Marion Sims Opens My Body for the Thirty-Fourth Time

ISSUE:  Summer 2014

Montgomery, Alabama 1845–1849

I am not yet dead. Do not call this miracle or raise your hands in praise. First, 
you should know how long I prayed, and how I came to know the silence of the Lord.

He does not arrive in a ball of light blinding on the road to Damascus.
He comes in silence. Lie there night after night and you will come to know

He speaks in the tongue of suffering. I have survived; do not call it brave.
I rattled this body from the inside. I could not find its latch. I would have escaped it

if I could. Reader—a body can be rummaged through like a medicine cabinet.
The flesh can be unfurled. Stitched, unbound, mended and stitched again.

Nothing is lost; nothing can be unmade.

Do not underestimate how hard it is to die and do not think the dead will save you.
The dead have forgotten suffering. Remember what I told you.

Remember how hard I prayed. Remember: whole days and nights 
I wandered outside myself. My body opened to wind and latched again

like a door against it. There was pain in the opening and pain in the parts that healed.
Remember what I said of prayer: to house the soul in a body is a way of it.

Sometimes we suffer for one another as I have suffered for you. If you like, 
we can call it holy. 


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