Damara Martin reads her essay "Bruised Georgia Peaches in Miami"

Audio Feature

 

 

Damara Martin reads her essay "Bruised Georgia Peaches in Miami"

Audio Feature

N.B.: We recommend viewing in landscape on mobile devices.

I was in Whole Foods pondering meals, contemplating spices and associating colors with the symmetry of pottery. Peaches were on sale for $1.99 per pound. A storm leered into the front windows of the store. Summer is particularly tumultuous this year, and I returned a gaze of appreciation to the dark rain clouds.

As I turned to evaluate the food labels on the fruit juices, an Australian god came into my personal space. I am accustomed to it: the way both men and women are extremists. Either too close or much too far—to challenge my formidable size or to become intimidated by it. And my beauty. The beauty I have never met but that everyone else appears to know so well. How I break and yet fit into conventions. How people think I owe them something. How they take and take away from me. Whether of that of belonging, or self-confidence, or womanhood. They won’t allow it to be mine.

I love grocery stores. A plethora of things lined perfectly on the shelves. Never reaching or pulling away from me. Only waiting. I can take my fill. I can absorb them; I can feel painstakingly full if I desire to. But of course, someone was in the way again. He completely towered over my 6’4” frame.

“I love your tattoos. How long did it take, your sleeve?”

My disposition was meek and soft: “A couple of years,” I cooed.

He pointed to his own (perfectly sculpted) tattooed arms. “Four years for me,” he said. “Wow, what a fantastic concept!”

I thought maybe he wanted to know my tattoo artist, like the many others who inquired about my artwork. I tried to speak, but he interrupted me, as to let me know I had the wrong idea. He continued on a little about himself. His male acquaintance rejoined him after retrieving fresh snapper from behind the glass display.

The Australian god turned to his friend. “Mate, look at her work. Simply beautiful.”

I smiled timidly. Before walking away, he gently glided his index and middle finger down the left side of my arm. The tattoo there is of a woman tangled in the strings of a hot air balloon—her face and hair a flame, igniting the unwanted journey through the horizon.

The hairs on the back of my neck cooled, and tumbled unto the yellow caution sign near an overturned gallon of orange juice. My tongue, by nature, is a lighter. But the flint wheel wouldn’t turn, the rivet loose and dropping the constituents of phonemes like plates of metal.

His fingers had trailed from the apex of the tattooed flames down to the dangling, ungrounded feet. The touch was too personal, condescending, audacious, and misogynistic. But more than anything, it was lonely and kind.

I have no idea what my facial expression conveyed at that moment. I wanted to be angry, but more than anything I was surprised. He smiled and walked away without giving me a chance to react. As I continued to grocery shop, my left arm clattered against the open spaces of the dairy aisle. It was a wild noon, a patois of a bell—the clapper swinging like the stiff yet sonorous midday thunder.

From Flock 20.

I was in Whole Foods pondering meals, contemplating spices and associating colors with the symmetry of pottery. Peaches were on sale for $1.99 per pound. A storm leered into the front windows of the store. Summer is particularly tumultuous this year, and I returned a gaze of appreciation to the dark rain clouds.

As I turned to evaluate the food labels on the fruit juices, an Australian god came into my personal space. I am accustomed to it: the way both men and women are extremists. Either too close or much too far—to challenge my formidable size or to become intimidated by it. And my beauty. The beauty I have never met but that everyone else appears to know so well. How I break and yet fit into conventions. How people think I owe them something. How they take and take away from me. Whether of that of belonging, or self-confidence, or womanhood. They won’t allow it to be mine.

I love grocery stores. A plethora of things lined perfectly on the shelves. Never reaching or pulling away from me. Only waiting. I can take my fill. I can absorb them; I can feel painstakingly full if I desire to. But of course, someone was in the way again. He completely towered over my 6’4” frame.

“I love your tattoos. How long did it take, your sleeve?”

My disposition was meek and soft: “A couple of years,” I cooed.

He pointed to his own (perfectly sculpted) tattooed arms. “Four years for me,” he said. “Wow, what a fantastic concept!”

I thought maybe he wanted to know my tattoo artist, like the many others who inquired about my artwork. I tried to speak, but he interrupted me, as to let me know I had the wrong idea. He continued on a little about himself. His male acquaintance rejoined him after retrieving fresh snapper from behind the glass display.

The Australian god turned to his friend. “Mate, look at her work. Simply beautiful.”

I smiled timidly. Before walking away, he gently glided his index and middle finger down the left side of my arm. The tattoo there is of a woman tangled in the strings of a hot air balloon—her face and hair a flame, igniting the unwanted journey through the horizon.

The hairs on the back of my neck cooled, and tumbled unto the yellow caution sign near an overturned gallon of orange juice. My tongue, by nature, is a lighter. But the flint wheel wouldn’t turn, the rivet loose and dropping the constituents of phonemes like plates of metal.

His fingers had trailed from the apex of the tattooed flames down to the dangling, ungrounded feet. The touch was too personal, condescending, audacious, and misogynistic. But more than anything, it was lonely and kind.

I have no idea what my facial expression conveyed at that moment. I wanted to be angry, but more than anything I was surprised. He smiled and walked away without giving me a chance to react. As I continued to grocery shop, my left arm clattered against the open spaces of the dairy aisle. It was a wild noon, a patois of a bell—the clapper swinging like the stiff yet sonorous midday thunder.

From Flock 20.

Damara Martin is a doctoral student at Florida Atlantic University. She was once obsessed with the wading, a wading that haunted domicile and ate light. Her burden was irascible; cupola to her home placed atop her shoulders like a head. Its shadow audaciously resting on the windowpanes. And her child, who sojourned inside the rooms as if they were not his own. Desperate to understand the family unit, she foraged through life like a destitute purse—until the banshee in her heart was eradicated by the illuminating. Until Abba beckoned her and called her by name. The form of her body poemed and versed by the Creator.