BRN-FALL-2013.indb 159 Kwame stood staring into the space she’d occupied only seconds ago. He walked slowly, almost mechanically to the window, savoring the poetry of her svelte body against his will as she navigated her way through the crowd, her print dress a constellation of fiery suns set amid fields of dense earth. A heavy burden, like a bale of cotton, suddenly weighed him down as he shuffled across the room. His left foot snagged the wastebasket, spilling its dead contents. “Fuck!” Kwame exploded as he deposited his body in the chair. “All I wanted was for her to like my goddamn story. Damn her!” All at once he wanted to take her by her lovely tanned shoulders and shake her like a rag doll, shake her until all of the dread-locked notions and potions brewing inside her head came spilling out in wild psychedelic colors. At least that would be something he could see, touch, and maybe even understand. It was a glorious Sunday afternoon, and they were strolling along breathtaking South Beach on the Indian Ocean. It was miles and miles of unspoiled, uncharted beach lined with coconut palms and guava trees as far as the eye could see. They were amusing themselves like children: splashing barefoot along the water’s edge, gathering seashells, and picking up ripe fruit that had fallen from the trees. Kwame had been released from the hospital two months earlier and had become something of a recluse since. As he recalled it, Anyika had magically appeared at his door that Sunday noon and cajoled him into joining her along with a small group of poets and writers who gathered once a month at an open-air cabin on the beach. Afterwards, the two of them were having a high ole time swapping impressions of the performers and laughing at each other’s jibes when Kwame came to a sudden halt, mesmerized by the sight of a flock of sea gulls. They were drifting effortlessly on the wind, their wings luminous in the afternoon sun. “I’ve…I’ve seen these before…the gulls,” Kwame stammered like a child, his face bewildered as he pointed at the birds circling overhead. “I saw them… above the caves… at…at Bagamoyo??? BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE Kwame sat head bowed, arms folded across his chest, too spent to grapple with the meaning of her words. And yet the sound of them filled him with the most exhilarating warmth. Anyika gingerly removed another tissue from the box and dried her eyes. “You know Kwame, you’re going to be a wonderful writer when you learn to just let go like you did in those scenes I mentioned. When you stop struggling with the gift you’ve been given. When you stop trying so hard to make something out of it and just allow the beauty that’s in you—the same beauty I feel whenever I’m with you—to flow onto the page. Wow! That will really be something!” she smiled as she rose to go. 159 She went on. “I didn’t like the old man in your story. I guess he was supposed to be the main character, but I didn’t like him because he was just too tragic in an absolute sense. Life is never really like that if you look beneath the surface. The grandmother in the story did something very ugly. She beat a little boy, her grandson, who was too young, too innocent and pure-minded to understand why kissing a little white girl in Mississippi was wrong or dangerous. But deep down inside her anger, her fear, there was real love, real beauty in what she felt for him. Yes, it was ugly, but you—the writer—must have felt the beauty too because you gave it to us—your readers—without trying, without even knowing. I felt love flowing into me out of that scene. I felt…healing. Even the grandson feels that on some level, that’s why when he sees his grandmother sitting on the porch in her rocking chair, tears and sweat on her face, he brings her a cool glass of water. When she pulls him onto her lap and rocks him, your reader feels the healing too. Yes, there is hurt. Yes, there is frustration. But there’s real love between them… real beauty. And we need that so much, Kwame. Not just us—black people, I mean—but all people, the Earth, the Universe too. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s really all I’m talking about,” she whispered. But all that remained to comfort him were her eyes—those deep shimmering pools of amber light that drew him in like undertow. And as much as he hated to admit it, if worst came to worst, even if it meant drowning in those blissful currents, it would be a sweet death. After all, wasn’t it A ?ZZ?H??Y?[Y?[H?X?????HH?X???Y?[[?[???\??&]]\?X\?X\?]Y?\?]?Y?\?Y]?^H]???????K?L??L?L??SB??