Thursday, April 21, 2016

"This is Hard"

    I am re-reading C. D. Wright's ONE BIG SELF, making notes about questions I have for the author, remembering suddenly that she's not here to answer them.

My students and I look at the portraits Deborah Luster took in the prisons of Louisiana, and we read C. D.'s poem "Black is the Color" and her refrain, the words written to acknowledge the unspeakable: "This is hard." I look up all the Latin in the book and it turns out I know it already. I look up "cicatrix" and "undine." And I wonder, reading the phrase "dirty chi," did the poet know that "chi" is not just from the Chinese but from the Igbo? In the African language that slaves were still speaking in the South in 1755, "chi" means "soul."

I bet she knew.

Someone told me that I was mentioned in C. D.'s last book. Yes, there it is. (The essay is excerpted online in a blog . . . and now I have the book.)

Though I did not know her well, C. D. was kind to me, as she was kind to many others. Made me feel real. Right to the end. And beyond.