PRINTS: what we leave behind by Erica Cardwell
Brown skin, coiled hair.
Dark skin, woven locks.
Freckles, fades, moles.
Wavy edges and babyhairs.
Jawlines and breasts.
Large hands, fingerprints.
This isn’t the house that love built, but it is the house where love lives.
There are many different kinds of women. There are many different kinds of love. It’s Brooklyn. It’s 2006. Celia’s tiny house is a temporary weigh station for a crew of women with complicated secrets and delicious sexualities. Love is the theme and these women have created a place of safety to just kick it. Celia is our beloved matriarch in her unchosen house of misfits, transplants, and deliberate outcasts. There’s Glo,
the rapid fire MD. Kamille, Celia’s overzealous baby sister. Rachel, the well intentioned nurse. Tina, the mouthy gossip queen. Pat, the meek upholder of the “law”. The secrets of these women reproduce like fingerprints; identities that persist throughout time. Often, our prints are dismissed as shadows– leaving a mark within pain, duty, and competition. When we lend these prints to the air, allow them to evaporate as memories and then inhale, we own our stories. Women of color are not drama; we exist boldly within true stories of love and kinship.
Often imitated, never duplicated.
Erica Cardwell is a queer romantic, educator, and activist. Her work centers on deconstructing the imagery and social perspectives of marginalized and silenced peoples. She writes about art, womanism, girlhood, identity, language, and race. Her essays and reviews have been featured in The Paper, The Feminist Wire, Ikons Magazine, and the upcoming edition of Black Queer. Throughout the city, she has shared her work at La Galleria, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Brecht Forum, Raw Fiction reading series, In The Flesh, and, post Hurricane Sandy at Queer Memoir: Awkward. Currently, she is a youth worker and advocate at The Hetrick-Martin Institute. Erica lives in the land of make believe in Astoria, Queens. You can read more of her work at www.theomnivorous.blogspot.com.