I will not be the bridge to your womanhood
I’m sick of reminding you not to
Close off too tight for too long
I’m sick of mediating with your worst self
On behalf you your better selves
I am sick
Of having to remind you
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self
Stretch or drown
Evolve or die
The bridge I must be
Is the bridge to my own power
I must translate
My own fears
My own weakness
-Donna Kate Rushin
This is an excerpt of one of the poems that open up Danielle Evan’s debut collection of short stories and it’s no wonder she titled the text, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. With this collection of short stories I would argue that Ms. Evans is advocating for more decisions grounded in the way in which we benefit our own individual self amidst the overlapping troubles of those amongst us. It’s not an easy decision, and among the characters that make up these 8 compelling stories we learn you either suffocate or survive.
Three of the most striking stories are Virgins, Snakes, and Someone Ought to Tell Her There’s Nowhere To Go. They represent for me the tough decisions that have to be made in the midst of love, family, and most importantly oneself. In the story entitled Robert E. Lee is Dead, that is centered around Crystal and Geena. Crystal and Geena attend the same high school,Crystal and Geena are both cheerleaders, Crystal and Geena are both from the poverty stricken community of Eastdale. And yet only one will graduate high school, and make it to college as the other sits in jail for the crime that the former committed.
I took off running, stopping in the middle of the parking lot to take off my heels. I kept running, the asphalt stinging my feet through my panty house. Half-way up the hill behind the school, I stopped to look back, vaguely recalling Sunday school[…]Already I could hear the sirens in the distance. I watched [her] sitting on the curb beside the pay phone[…] she looked small and still and ready. I turned then, shut my eyes, and ran breathlessly toward the dam-pg. 229
Suffocate or Survive
Ms. Evans doesn’t pretend the decisions are easy but none the less they have to be made. More times then not, the decision is made through the small steps and often mis-steps we take in life. The girl who is leaving behind a friend to take-up her crime has already decided in that short span of time that her life was worth more than a jail cell. She decided a long time ago that she would make it out of her community, and by taking the fall for her friends crime the other friend has agreed. She has agreed that her friends purpose is better than her own and so she will suffocate amongst the consequences of a friends action.Or yet maybe she survives, in knowing that she helped her friend to attain her goals, because she had none? Right or wrong two choices were made and we have the one final outcome.
Suffocate or Survive
Overall there are two decision ahead of us but only survival will allow us to thrive. This book is so reflective through all the stories and scenarios that I’m still re-reading and underlying my book trying to make sense of some of the different outcomes. This book is super juicy and should be on your summer reading list like…. yesterday !
Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self is super Kori approved so be sure to pick it up!!!