Updated: Mar 6, 2019
to whatever undefined, unpaid, unsolicited, unrequited gig of a road called fate you're supposed to be on. train's gone. skrr skrr. soul mate's been snatched up. Choo choo.
your destiny is slinky slipping away.
your calling is an -ed.
you've missed your 1.
weren't you the one who was supposed to make “it”?
Now that you've defined what "it" is, you realize you don't have the energy for "it". you're not the indefatigable mule of your mother.
you don't have the play money. or the social money. or the confidence money. or the skill money.
In the 5th grade, I did a stint in a Lutheran school. Besides chapped chapel knees, I really liked it. For the talent show, my friend Emily R. (not to be confused with with Emily E.) and I sang Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life". I loved singing. I was the best shower singer on the East Coast and I was ready for my talent to splash through the walls of the bathroom. But singing was my secondary love. My calling was not to become a sing-er. No, my calling was to be a writer. When Ms. Dixon told us our assignment was to write a book, I went straight home and opened up a word.doc: "The diary of Peaches Tree." A 50 page diary of a clipart Black girl who's daily conflicts mirrored mine. But her story deserved more than to be poorly stapled on 8 x 11 printer paper. Instead of bound books with no paper in them, The Dollar Tree only had journals. I picked a red one. I pasted over the lined paper with Peaches' 11th year in her 11 years.
Clearly, I've always wanted to make books. Over a decade later, I'm still jealous when I see a book stuffed with paper I didn't write on. I don’t go anywhere without my journal. I think, if something tragic happens and I forget everything before today, I'll have some record to remind myself what I was on to.
It's taken me a year and half to write this blog post. I feel kind of late. Like it's taken me too long. But how long is it supposed to take?
I am eager to share with you a dream I’ve always had, Canary Review. It's not about me, but Black girls whose daily conflicts mirror mine. Specifically, it's about our joy. The cover art was done by my great aunt, Franny, the oldest woman I've ever known and the healthiest. At 97, she would still walk the whole town in one day. She could always walk.
A year and a half ago, 6 months before she passed, I'd brought some paints to Oxford and decided, it's August, if we're gonna sit outside we're also gonna paint together.
"Do you see the new blue?" she asked me and my cousin, Elias. "Aw, yes, that new blue is something.” She was excited because it was coming out of her brush.
"I hadn't noticed it." I said, a bit embarrassed. I couldn't see it.
"Elias? is that you singing so beautifully? I love your singing." But Elias wasn't singing. He was sitting on the grass next to me adding green. What was she hearing? I wondered how old I’d have to be to have that extra sense.
What makes you late to something? Is it your time or what time someone else told you to show up? How can you be late on your own time? How can you be late to an extra sense?
Canary Review Vo.1 is dedicated to Franny because she was beyond time. She was a timeless, healthy 97. She just got tired. And her transition was in her own time.
The morning of, she went to her closest friend, Tilghman in a dream, “it’s time,” she told him. Tilghman told his mom, “M’lady! You gotta go see M’lady!” (That’s what he used to call her, M’lady.) His mom drove to the hospice and Franny transitioned right there, with Tilghman’s mom in the room.
“How did you get in here? The doors are locked,” said the nurses. Franny had done the impossible-- called in who she needed at the time she needed. She had a gift for living in the ease of her calling.
I have been scared to share Canary Review, for fear of not knowing who to call in to help me learn how to Design. I’d been lacking the skill money. But, I have grown from the 11 year old cutting and pasting clipart as cover art. I have learned how and who to call in,
Even if I was 40 publishing my first anthology of Black Girl Hysteria, I still would not be late. You cannot be late to your own creations. I am thankful for those who have lent their time in the making of this anthology. I am honored to share your words and paint.
Canary Review is a journal to keep close. Go download the lit mag today!