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ancestry

Art by Anna Schuleit Haber

Yams

Just then they were all eating yams, candied and still hot from the stove. Golden-brown pieces glistening with sauce that dripped from the serving spoon as it moved between the bowl and the plates. Heavy sweet pieces that clung to their forks, sank and settled on their tongues and then dissolved in a swirl of rich textures.

The girl’s uncle Todd pushed back his chair and reached for the bowl and a second helping. His broad hands pressed across the table, past his water glass and the ladle of gravy, the tea lights and decorative poinsettia, up and over the enormous ham. 

“Why can’t you just ask?” 

Private family graveyard at Monticello. Charlottesville, VA. (iStockPhoto / Gene Krebs)

Remembering the Randolphs

As soon as I began to ask questions, I realized how much work had gone into no longer asking them, into silences or re-​routings, into omissions, not-​noticings—​into a carefully pruned rhetoric of absence. When I began to realize I wanted the answers to such questions, I realized how afraid I was of asking them at all.