The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Reclamation

Posted on: January 21, 2007

None of the men who had taken her in her short lifetime had seen her. That she wore bronze lipstick, or had a beautiful smile that was punctuated perfectly by dimples. That she plaited her hair herself, into tight cornrows. That her light complexion was a throwback from that time a Portuguese sailor had mistaken her great-grandmother’s cries.

None of them noticed the gentle shadow her breasts cast on her stomach as she reached on tiptoe for the relief of a stretch. Never explored the dip in her lower back where perspiration collected like gentle dew. They never weighed the heft of her breast the way she did, had, from the moment of her first bump. Sitting in her room, the darkness softened by a tired moon straining through dirty windows, she had rolled her growing breast between her palms like dough being shaped for a lover’s bread. This wasn’t an erotic exercise, though it became that, inevitably. At first it was a curiosity, a genuine wonder at the burgeoning of self, a self that was still Abigail, yet still her. With the tip of a wax crayon she would write “me,” over and over on the brown rise of them. And when she washed in the shower the next day, the color would bleed, but the wax left a sheen, the memory of night and her reclamation.

From “Becoming Abigail” by Chris Abani

One that struck me while typing this out was the empathy and gentle, deliberate care Abani showed with every word that he used to create Abigail. It makes me think of a artist working with great concentration on forming this unique sculpture. Theoretically you know that there exists hundreds of other sculptures on women made out of the same materials depicted in similar positions but the skill, the power of this one convinces you that you have never seen a figure like his.

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2 Responses to "Reclamation"

I completely agree with you that the creation of Abigail was done with empathy and gentle, delibrate care. The passage you chose is beautiful in its construction.

I’m glad you thought so, Heather. I can’t get the book out of my head and I suspect that is one of the reasons.

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