Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: ‘Lord’ a short story by Alicia Harmon

<p>Feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde poses for a headshot. Lorde, who inspired the short story &quot;Lord,&quot; was born Feb. 18 in 1934.</p>

Feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde poses for a headshot. Lorde, who inspired the short story "Lord," was born Feb. 18 in 1934.


“Zemira, clean the dishes,” Zora says, looking hard at me. My older sister leans against the dingy white counter holding a drying towel in her hand. Rushing me knowing good and well that she has the easy job of drying and putting away dishes while I have to wash and rinse. 

“I am cleaning.” I want to tell her to worry about herself, but I don’t. Mom and Dad can see us as they talk in the living room, and they don’t do petty arguing.

Either way, I ain’t worried about her. I’m thinking about Ruth. How I avoided her all day at school. Everyone else spent the whole time talking to, trying to tal, or getting rejected by their Valentine. I wasn’t about to be part of that. Anyway, we just talk sometimes in math class. She helps me with my drawings when I can’t get them right. That’s all. 

I try not to stare, but I do. More now since I helped Ruth do her hair. She usually comes in the morning with dense, scruffy ponytails or tangled attempts at french braids. This Wednesday, though, she asked me for help. I’m getting good at doing braids and twists. Mom is teaching me.

“‘Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling,’” Mom says from the living room, holding up the stapled packet of a printed PDF. It’s crinkled and highlighted, her notes filling the margins. Since she started this Black feminism class, she always has packets. 

Dad sighs. “Talking about porn in front of the girls.”

“Them girls gonna be grown. And they probably crushin’ and thinkin’ about somebody as we speak. They should know about these things.” She looks at him hard, pushing her short black locs from her eyes. “And if you would listen to me, you’d know I ain’t here just talking about porn.”

“Gooood Lord,” Dad says, slumping into the couch. Its old cushions absorb him.

Mom laughs and slaps him in the face with her packet before turning to my sister and I.

Zora looks at me, already knowing what’s about to happen.

“See, your daddy’s the man. But y’all ain’t like the man. We wage revolution against the man.” She squints her eyes hard, and they crinkle like they do when she laughs. 

“Laaawd, gonna make my daughters lesbians.” He laughs.

Zora and I half-laugh with him as Mom looks at him. Dad stands from the couch with the big rocking motion that’s needed to climb from its concave cushions. He wraps his arms around Mom from behind.

Mom leans away from him, but he holds her. “Listen, though. Lorde says here, ‘We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.’ It’s cause they tell us that the erotic is bad. That it’s only for sex when it’s really your creative energy, your desires. Your fulfillment and all that. It’s those feelings that inspire you. Porn exploits the erotic, and makes you separate from your feelings, from everything. But your feelings should be part of everything.”

It’s quiet for a second. “Yes, ma’am.” That’s the answer I give when I don’t know what to say back to her.

“Yes, street corner preacher,” Dad says. He calls her that a lot now. 

Mom shakes her head. “I can’t explain it right. Imma make you girls read it, though.”

“Sweet Lord,” Dad says and then he whispers something in her ear. 

Mom pauses, smiles real small at whatever he says, gets that soft look she gets whenever Dad talks to her like this. 

“OK,” Zora says flatly as she turns away from them. “Clean, Zemira.”

The soft look fades. Mom pulls away from him. “Take me seriously.” 

Dad throws his arms wide. “I do. Make me wanna go back and get my education.” He laughs, and Mom’s eyes go dark.

I look away from them and start scrubbing a pan. I already know what’s about to happen, so I don’t watch. The smell of soap starts to take over the smell of oil and seasoning. Ruth’s hair smells sweet. Feels soft. 

I don’t know what to think about my feelings.



Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Comments


Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2021 Indiana Daily Student