A SIDE: ADAM
adam spoke the language of death too well. that was our problem, see: adam let the vowels of submission curl around the contours of his childish tongue like a comma; and i let the language of the imperialists fester on my tongue like curdled milk. god yanked individuality from the pits of adam’s stomach and shoved reverence in its place; i allowed the white man to drag light from the dark of my womb and leave oppression in every place he touched. extinction didn’t precede existence in the dictionary, but most of the times it felt like it did. adam agreed. here, look, god gagged adam the same way america buried a knife into the thick of my throat and cut all my round vowels from my vocabulary; and in the beginning, when god created light and white man created liberation, when adam managed to fit prayers and thanks into the grooves of his mouth, a single sentence could barely manage to settle in the rebirth of my mouth. and here, look again: adam, culled of sin and smelling of olive skin, browned like papyrus. me, black and rooted in the tree of oppression, an object of white male lust. when i began to sprout up and stretch closer to reaching salvation, gutted fish swam into the wet of my dim and planted self-hate there. adam let go of my hand, then. that was i when i realized: adam was white man was judas was traitor was adam.
B SIDE: EVE
when eve curled her body around rebellion; i wrapped my tongue around the rhythm of acceptance. self-love settled into the garden of my mouth like forbidden fruit; it tasted so sweet, like a damning apple, and it whispered freedom to me like a serpent’s hiss. self-worth bloomed on my skin like a grenade pit of explosive sin. my hate towards white man grew palpable on my tongue; i gulped it down. revolution etched into the engravings of our palms, and i could feel it when she pressed our hands together. forget his words, she seemed to say, learn your own. so i did; i let the sweet wine of my culture bleed into the skin of my lips, almost let eve kiss it off. but instead i tilted my head towards the sky, and eve arched her neck towards god. we rounded our lips into bullet holes and gulped down the vitriol our separate gods had planted there, simultaneous, blasphemous, post-mortem. we were free.
channelle “chei” russell is a writer from jamaica. her writing explores the deconstruction of the human condition, the impact of the surrealist worldview on the marginalized, and the abstract conceptualizations of gender, race, and sexuality in an absurd world. she is 17. you can find her on tumblr and twitter.
illustration by nadia el h.