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September 01, 2003

Remembering Charles Johnson

No, he's not dead. But I've been looking for my copy of 'The Sorceror's Apprentice' to read to my kids. And in doing so, I happened across this small paragraph that reminded me of his mythical Allmuseri:

I gripped the boy from below, slipping my right hand behind his back, my other under his thigh, so cool and soft, like the purple casing of a plum, that my ragged, unmanicured nails punctured the meat with a hiss as if I'd freed a pocket of air. A handful of rotting leg dropped into my hand . .. That bloody piece of him I held, dark and porous, with the first layers of liquefying tissue peeling back to reveal an orange underlayer, fell from my fingers onto the deck . . . My stained hand still tingled. Of a sudden, it no longer felt like my own. Something in me said it would never be clean again . . . .

This semester, I have tasked myself with instructing the children in recitations. So I am looking for poems for them to read aloud. There are precious few in my Norton Anthology which are appropriate to their ages, but I expect to find something somewhere which is.

Still reading a bit of James Weldon Johnson and Paul Laurence Dunbar has quieted my mind this morning, and remembering the days of my late 20s when it was so important for me to absorb both Johnsons as well as Jean Toomer and Moliere brings me to recollect myself. An old leaf of my tree, a branch of life forgotten or subsumed in the creature of economy I have become.

I will try again to reach out and communicate with Richard Y, whom I met briefly in the early days of those journeys.

Not long ago I was writing about essays of self and blackness. In one, I wrote of my well-wrapped universe which was part and pacel of my creating a cloak to encompass a virtual tribe, an Allmuseri of my own generation - a people within a people of shared experience and disciplined unity of mind. Those ideas are both within me and behind me. Today I remember.

Posted by mbowen at September 1, 2003 12:48 PM

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