My mother was like a deer fawn, the way her limbs and tall, lithe body stretched out like twigs. Her raven jet black hair had a slight curl to it that betrayed her, along with her green eyes. Easily absorbing the southern reaches of sun in her darker complexion, she was not so “pure.” Not one, not the other, a living testimony of foreign men that had laid eyes on my ancestors’ dark shades of braided hair and skin and found lust in their hearts.
What was not theirs, they took. The resulting differences divorced us instantly from the heart of our people. We no longer belonged. We were permanently cast to the “others,” who didn’t see us as fully human either. Somewhere in between we have drifted, all this time. Are we a new human? A different human? Human at all?
Family became everything. Good or bad, cruel or harsh, for better or worse, this new line of human beings continued, mixing ingredients that had never known each other before, a new recipe with no name in creation.
The Creator looks over all of us, speaking to those others even as we are spoken to. They have a creation story they speak of, do they feel it too? The Creator loves variety, these new beings must be part of it? They will find their place and make a way, won’t they?
My mother, so much pride, and so much shame, all at once. My mother, my mother’s mother, and her mother, and the mother before, all bring shame. They are cast down in it, and perpetual humiliation. “Is this all there is?” my mother cries. My white father thinks she is referring to their lack of money and material wealth, that she can never be satisfied, that this is her God, like theirs, and they are wanting. They do not feel this kind of deeper pain. A pain that extends well beyond herself, backwards in time, that is the birthright she nurtures in the next generation and the next.
This pain is so great, my mother must give it, it cannot be denied. Like a beast, it has her, and in her struggle, all we are is forgotten, there is only survival. It does this to her as it did to those before, just as it ripped her own family apart, her own children from her, orphaning children, enslaving them and casting everyone far from each other. The parasitic roots of this thing took hold in our ancestor, who creation seeded with the strength to wander the paths of Southwest Kentucky, barely able to toddle, blending for refuge in the bushes, trembling from the trauma of bloodshed and violence, trails of tears and loss, her parents among them. Be strong through this, do not let them hear you. Cry quietly, cry silently. You are our seed in creation, survive.
This pain is so great, it cannibalizes her own children, consumes their hearts, rips her children’s children from their arms, their wombs. This pain must be heard. This pain must be manifested. It must be voiced! Is it ancestor? Is it mother? Like a thread through time, it connects each of us, I feel it pulling all the way back, I feel my mother tugging at me, trying to pull me in, but I resist, I will not be consumed. In silent violence, our family is eviscerated, stretched out like a game carcass. Our shocked hearts on display, the eyes permanently open to confused torture that we can never unsee.
My mother always carried the scent of flowers. When she came close to me, she radiated a softness. An illusion, like her scent. My mother always wore Chanel #5. I did not know this. Not even her smell was what I thought, not even her softness. It was a facade covering a harsh and cold heart underneath, that eternally cried for itself and held no love, no hugs, none of the affections that I hoped for, just the duty and obligations she was indentured to, like each of her mothers before her. Each of us have been ugly, as she was, all the way back.
My mother carries a cold, hard stare for me. I am a mother, too. I best know my place, as she knew hers. She is the eldest. I will get my birthright, as she received hers, a bleeding crown. How dare we believe we can heal. How dare we do better than her. She embraced the beast, the wendigo, the “other,” and it will win. It will not be our generation. It will be hers. “I will rip you from your family. I will rip you from your parents. I will tear your children from you. You will be in my image, we will construct you, part you, reassemble you.”
They say they feel the Creator. They say “God” and that they feel God. They mistake this for acting as God, believe they are gods, and on par with the Creator. They take creation’s work, and plagiarize, engineer, in their own image, according to their own will, a bastardization. The wendigo springs forth in its place.
My children, my children…what have they done? What has she done? Mother deer fawn, you have become the wendigo. How often have I begged you, mother, free yourself from the snare, free us, free your children, free HER, free our ancestors. Where IS your Creator? Why do you not feel your roots? Your family? Your ancestor? As I have and do? We cry for justice. We weep for our mother. My children weep for their mother, as I did for you, but you looked on, without expression. An empty, walking shell that looked like my mother, but was not. Your heart had been consumed already. They are but children, mother…my children, my children… Mother deer fawn, stop eating us. She wears the fawn’s skin, but she is hungry with a hole in her stomach that can never be filled.
A wendigo ate my family. It consumed my mother, my children, everyone. I am the only survivor.