a burst of life-audre lorde

i packed four books with me for the year i spent in viet nam. one of them was zami. even now, as “settled” as i have been in my life, audre is still teaching me words from the other side. this is the first of the binge….

“Racism. Cancer. In both cases, to win the aggressor must conquer, but the resisters need only survive. How do I define that survival and on whose terms?” (111)

“How has everyday living changed for me with the advent of a second cancer? I move through a terrible and invigorating savor of now-a visceral awareness of the passage of time, with its nightmare and its energy. No more long-term loans, extended payments, twenty-year plans. Pay my debts. Call the tickets in, the charges, the emotional IOU’s. Now is the time, if ever, once and for all, to alter the patterns of isolation. Remember that nice lady down the street whose son you used to cross at the light and who was always saying, “Now if there’s ever anything I can do for you, just let me know.” Well, her boy’s got strong muscles and the lawn needs mowing.” (124)

“I work, I love, I rest, I see and learn. And I report. These are my givens. Not sureties, but a firm belief that whether or not living them with joy prolongs my life, it certainly enables me to pursue the objectives of that life with a deeper and more effective clarity.” (134)

i pulled those passages for henrietta lacks, and for jack layton. see you tomorrow at roy thompson hall, toronto.


2 thoughts on “a burst of life-audre lorde

  1. the medical system is invasive and cold on women’s bodies:

    “If I have this biopsy and it is malignant, then a while course of action will be established simply by their intrusion into the suspect site. Yet if this tumor is malignant, I was as much good time as possible, and their treatments aren’t going to make a hell of a lot of difference in terms of my general condition and how I live my life.
    On the other hand, if this is benign, I believe surgical intervention into fatty tissue of any kind can start the malignant process in what otherwise might remain benign for a long time. I’ve been down that road before.” (55)

    “Obviously I still don’t accept these tumors i my liver as cancer, although I know that could just be denial on my part, which is certainly one mechanism for coping with cancer. I have to consider denial as a possibility in all my planning, but I can also feel that there is absolutely nothing they can do for me at Sloane Kettering except cut me open and sew me back up with their condemnations inside me.” (75-6)

  2. legacy’s labour’s lost:

    “If someone says you’re Russian and you know you’re not, you don’t collapse into stunned silence. Even if someone calls you a bigamist, or a childbeater, and you know you’re not, you don’t crumple into bits. You say it’s not true and you keep on printing the posters. But let anyone, particularly a Black man, accuse a straight Black woman of being a Black /Lesbian/, and right away that sister becomes immobilized, as if that is the most horrible thing she could be, and must at all costs be proven false. That is homophobia. It is a waste of woman energy, and it puts a terrible weapon into the hands of your enemies to be used against you to silence you, to keep you docile and in line. It also serves to keep us isolated and apart.” (22)

    “At that moment realizing I guess I never hit my kids when they were little for the same reason my father never hit me: because we were afraid that our rage at the world in which we lived might leak out to contaminate and destroy someone we loved. But my father never learned to express his anger beyond imaginary conversations behind closed doors. Instead, he stoppered it, denying me his image, and died of inchoate rage at fifty-one. My mother, on the other hand, would beat me until she wept from weariness. But it was not me, the overly rambunctious child, who sold her rotting food and spat upon her and her children in the street.” (44-5)

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