Stained Glass (Excerpt from “Copperhead”)

After a frustrating, yet moving service, Minister Bully returns to her small office to open the note she found in the church hymnal. It was folded, yet slightly exposed as the hymnal rested on the shelf of the pew in front of her.

Bully’s breath catches in her throat at the sight of her daughter’s name.

 

To: Min. Bully

From: Copperhead

Those men you share the pulpit with, they don’t intend to give you that freedom you crave. They don’t mean to give any of us freedom. And you know it. I know you know it.

You are the same woman who, with utmost certainty, declared: “Men, they mean you no harm because they don’t mean to see you as equal. Their own kindness, because that’s what they’d call it, will never let you speak as clear as the dainty glass they think you are.”

You are the mural those kind men try to cover when they recognize their true stature.

Don’t allow their kindness (because that’s what you’d call it) to leave you as melted sand. Let their so-called kindness temper you, mama. On the day stained glass speaks, it will speak with your voice.

#bully, #copperhead, #letter, #water

Excerpt from “Copperhead”

Dear Min. Bully Montgomery,

We come from generations of women, infatuated with misnaming our wounds. Our wounds are not signs of valor, as well you know. Our wounds are survival’s happenstance.

Certainly, you agree that ‘daughter’ has been a recurring wound for the women in our family. Daughter was indeed an unexpected wound for you, Bully. That’s why you named me Copperhead.

 

What would you say to me at odd moments, such as prayers before sleep? Oh, yes. “From the moment you were conceived, I knew because I cried out to God. I asked him why had I been forsaken,” you would say as I nestled in my thin covers. “It was sharp and immediate, your conception. As if a pit viper had struck in the dark. I bled and bled, I hurt and hurt, but didn’t know why.”

And you are afraid, I know, because you still bleed.

(Excerpt from “Copperhead” by R. Person)

 

You are no woman with an issue of blood. You know that, don’t you? You are merely a woman. Undeniably a woman. You still bleed, though your breasts are lower than the sadness in your eyes. When bearing a child should be a distant memory, you still flow like a teenage girl. You have a habit of seeing curses where blessings bloom.

You know, it’s ironic mama. I understand what you meant long ago. Remember, when I was 4 and you said, “Copperhead, even when you smile, the things you say knick the bone.” And mama, do you remember what you asked me back then? You said, eyes averted, “Since you know so much little girl, what is your father’s name?”

The burning sting of your slap still echoes on my cheek. Good thing I am still “as dark as sin,” right?

I never understood, until now, why my cheek burned so. You asked, mama, and I only answered honestly. But, I get it now. It wasn’t my face you slapped, it was my father’s. He always did tell you the truth.

Copperhead

#black-stories, #copperhead, #fiction, #literature, #prose, #short-story, #stories