She stood not crossing the threshold least that boundary hasn’t been crossed.
Momma dressed us all up after feeding us like Christmas; me and my sisters. She said with eyes shinny (but nothing was coming out of them, somehow I knew something were suppose to be coming out of them).
“Momma people calling her home baby, you didn’t know, but we belong to people who could fly”. My sisters were younger than me, I was the big girl of the house. I was seven years old when momma talked to me over the dinner table. She had shown me how to wash, cut-up, wash again, season and cook chicken; she showed me how to make potato salad, collard greens with onions, and yams which were my favorite. She told me stories of our family and wings.
“We a magical people, Jada, we come from a long line of magic. One night while our family slept, warriors of brown and black skin like our own, came out of shadows with greed on their breath, surrounding, collecting and stole us away from our homes, separated us from all we knew, in return for liquid fire that promised elevation and divination. They lead us through the door of no return into the belly of the Holy Spirit that swallowed us all. We rode inside of guts and bowels mashed together and when the great holy spirit opened its mouth our great great grandfather stood at the top of the opening words rolling from his mouth like prayer, like song and these wings come out of the trees that had grown almost overnight on his back. Thick, strong black wings and before anyone of the holy agents could stop him, in one swoop (momma demonstrating with her entire body shaking the dinner table) his wings went up in the air and brought down with so much force, that when he ascended he took everybody that was linked to him up, up and away.”
Mother’s eyes were wide and staring up at the ceiling, had me and my sisters watching the ceiling too, watching for wings too. She said that when his wings got heavy and tired he drove into the water and built a whole new world where he is still, king.
“Oneday Jada, a man who walked through people, he stepped on and walked through them skin like tree bark, talked one of our mothers away. He did what granny say some men will try and do. He’d suck, twist and take every most thing that is inside of you, make it theirs by way of killing what you got until you just ain’t got no more inside of you to give, then she whispered, “it is what happen to them you know here in the new world. And then he try and try to take more, but our great momma was magical, baby, magical, she let her clothes fall from her body, she say she think her wings are ready and they rolled out of the purple and blue marks he had put there but her wings weren’t even like bird wings. She said the wings rolled out not like butterfly wings as beautiful as they are, no these wings were thick with dark crow looking feathers, she arched her back after sending your granny and her older sister off (but they didn’t go instead watching from behind the tree in the yard) great mother grabbed up all the rest of her babies who were four, two and just barely, great mother called her just barely because she had just barely made it here.
Our great momma say while she was waiting for a train to past, near hills that look like white elephants, they collide, great daddy didn’t make it, she did and sister just barely. But great momma wrapped her wings around all her other little babies, lifted them off the ground and they went right through the roof of that little shack and when granny and aunt Sarah awaken it whatin nothing left but loose wood, a huge black circle and a funny smell.
“But momma where did they go off to, momma are we going, do we have wings too? Momma do I have wings too?” Momma sat looking at me, she looked at me for a long time, like she didn’t even see me there, then I saw her come back into herself, she got up and walked over to me and put her hands in my hair pulling it up and off my scalp, then she put her hands on my face searching my skin golden brown, then took my hand into hers.
“yes baby, yes, you got wings, you and your children will have wings and their children will have wings and their children beyond you will have wings too, but they ain’t strong, you can’t do nothing with em’ and momma only got two arms”.
She kissed me on my forehead and gathered my sisters up in her arms all dressed and smiling. I got up to and followed behind her. She walked out our door and I followed behind her, I followed her into the stairwell we never used the elevator no more it never worked, I followed her up the concrete grey steps full of piss and Lysol. You could hear Damon bouncing his ball on the eleventh floor he was my age but he got to stay out as long as he wanted. The stairwell was full with loud drunken, dope and wine filled words that bounced off the concrete and back out into each other. When we got all the way up to the top where momma never allowed me to go ever, she turned to me and said run back to the house and don’t you stop don’t stop for no one. She said when you get inside of the house put all the locks back on the door get into your bed and get under the covers and pray baby, pray Jada pray for big strong wings just in case you need them.
I did, I turned and ran, I ran pass Eddie on the 20th floor who tried touching my secret place with a Popsicle stick, I ran past the fat man who lives on the eighth floor down the hall from us, he always smell like cooking grease and smiling at momma. I got into the apartment and got under my covers to pray and cry and pray. But it got hard with all the noise yelling people and trucks and banging on our steel door. I hoped God hear me praying over all that noise, I pray God heard me over all that noise to make my wings big and strong and not broken like momma’s. She is black, Greco black, and I am not going to stay with her, I’m going to fly too…