“Before now, I used to think death was the
nothing every other thing returns to,
but it’s safer, I suppose, to learn by practice.”

“In the beginning, the deception was straightforward. Her assignment was to root out any political radicals, and report back. She found spying on the academic set to be easy. These scientists and doctors weren’t as self-involved and closed off as she’d worried, they were too trusting.”

“But back to the schools—no ship jumping, no wading in the waters of the Atlantic would forestall the westernisation of the school system. I didn’t see myself in the reading primers in elementary school that stated, “See Jane run.” I wasn’t Jane. I needed an escape route, and in Los Angeles, the waters of the Atlantic could not be my salvation.”

“Where was her badge? That invisible insignia that had inspired a relentless neighbour to creep up on her and later lament to the deemster that it was indeed they who had been stealthily hunted and subjected to terror and obsession.”

“My response caused her to sit up even straighter and, without missing a beat, declare: “You’re real pretty for an African! I thought Africans were all ugly with black skin, thick lips, and fat noses.” “

“What becomes of the soil you walk upon;
When time is not as flat nor as straight
but it unfolds regardless?”

“‘We have to ask the ancestors to open the way.’ We knelt on the muddy ground and she sprinkled black snuff, speaking in low tones. When she was done we cupped our hands and clapped. Bongi and Tembi ululated.”

“When he comes over to place the white porcelain on my table he adds a sentence in French. I realise too slowly that he’s said something more than “Here you go” or “Enjoy,” and miss his meaning. I think he feels sorry for me and has offered the cup for free. I can’t be sure, but speaking feels like an acutely vulnerable act.”