Played Over Memories
Noelle L. Williams

Underground temperaments lose control. Heady urges create cracks from persistent pressure of heat and dampness. Soaked air heavy, against alkaloid makes rust that flacks the sides. Fugitive black girls stare in the mouth of backhand whispers. Their compasses worn from bold- faced eyes that steal broken, revealed pieces of life lived sweetly, hungrily.

Flee girl flee.

God. My hands buoyed to my shoulders. I am looking and stunned by her.

The played over memory rushes me. It remembers shame to a younger self. Seduced by a community gospel that dictates what, whom, how much I can and could desire. I scramble to find the midland. Steady, steady between what I remember feel and the gospel. I grab the latter because my escape from being shun and messed over by others, then and now, is determined by how close I look like, act like, her this, now.


Any part released, is just that, gone. Up to be snatched.

My played over memory rolls like this:

Her body, vinyl-black, smooth like lifted leather car seats, slain and hung to hang. Crouched behind shading the ground by two hands span. Fabric is two by three inches feeling on the base of her back dividing her cheeks. Face askew, backward, leaning to the side almost falling off her shoulders.

In real time though:

I didn't see, nor feel, leather hung, or off kilter delights and sexist setups- but warmth, affection delight, pulling me in, merging my body to hers. Back naked, an invitation to rock her, like delight. I did not want her gotten. I want to behold her. Wrap my arms around her back, one arm, then the other.

See I was small, hot and underground. The landlord lived in the basement with the caught air that makes heat. I held the stale heat at bay. I could not mind, though, the craving for something sweet. He, patron, would deliver me from the craving if I swept the rug- two quarters fifty cents delivered in my hand.

If caught looking, I'll run. Fast, up to the outside. But I wanted that sweetness for my own. Pulling my eyes away I see him at the door, watching me. He said:

"You like that. I do too."

Delighted at his discovery. Hiss open I felt the rust rashing. Herded pressure now fleeing by his happenstance and my inability to let go of what I see.

He says, "You left some lint. I can't give you fifty cents if you don't do your job right."

Younger self brought back. Brushing harder, sweets. I could see me giving the money to the storeowner. "I want that one Mr. Deliver, that one."

So I started again.

Not my first time underground. Before, I hid at the foot of the steps to the basement, playing hide and seek. Slay was It, looking for all of us by vocation, but craving me. On afternoons, when the sun was raw, dry, he'd look at me and say I want you with gesture. Trying to touch me, he said sweet, your sweet, lips under his tongue. He was bigger 6 or 7. I didn't want his touch.

I saw his visions of lying on top, eyes drawn so that his sensation then was our play sensation. He intended to take it, gotcha, his sensations expanded, gotcha. I knew the sensation he craved, but mine was mine.

Crouching I hid, my behind two hands span from the ground. The cloth 5 by 14 inches, covering the tops of my thighs, my fingers pressed to the cement. My head stretched forward, askew, alert. I looked harder into the darkness and it was he, eyes with crystal black twinkled, delight apparent, who smiled and said.

"I knew you wanted me to catch you."

"You like that."

My back would not release. I knew this time he would touch me and I would be forced. I did leave, I could. I ran, I think, I remember.

Poof, re-entering the night his frustration, singing the hair on the back of my neck. Everybody else had made it back to the base. I was just happy, breathless that I had not risked getting ruined another day.

Community gospel: fast girls, must have ears that itch, madness leaving scratches of blood. Youth, grown women, and men, ads, faster girls, television shows, their straining shirts, all talked in screaming undertones, gospel saying: she is so fresh, so fast. The talked about ones would switch down the street, smellin' themselves. I knew being a fast girl would catch you bald stares and sucked teeth. But it's not the actions within themselves that condemn. For good girls twirled on the streets during cheers, shaking their hips, dipping thighs to the ground. The same movements of when my aunt's friend would grind my uncle, his leg in the cut, her arms around his shoulders.

The shame was everybody knowing and extending beyond the pleasure that you were allowed. It seems as if honor was hoarding your secrets your pleasure in a round room, doors two feet apart traveling the rim, visible by everyone. Heart doors shutting in circles to everyone else, what slam, nah, you won't catch me open.

That's why fast girls ears were supposed to itch because their stuff was open, pigeon toed with a gap. Cross your legs, cause otherwise someone might see. But boys men wore their stuff on their shoulders. Boy got caught with girl: slapped, a girl with a boy, the disciplinarian would try to break her legs, pop her back. How dare your desires be left open, so fast, slow down, hide yourself, close those legs, so fast, slow down, hide yourself.

Shut. Bang close. Slam shut.

Underground temperaments lose control. Heady things make cracks from consistent pressure of heat and dampness. Heavy against hard alkaloid makes rust that flacks the sides. Fugitive.

I sat. My sensations were gotten I followed them riding the feeling. Inside while outside myself cause sensations explode. Open. So open, feeling the lights as they flickered in my head following visions that I had in store for me.

Ears don't need to itch, open doors, and open ways to openings like delight. Wrap my arms around your back. One arm, then the other, head on the back of your neck supporting the suspension. Let the people talk about joy, let the people talk about joy, ears still.

Copyright © 2002. Used with author's permission.

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