Jessi Smith

 

ďInky ConstellationsĒ

 

1. She drew stars on her hand in black ink.

 

2. She drew the stars like constellations jewels the ink painted black.

 

3. Just in case the world fell down she drew the stars of constellations in black ink. Her daddy always told her

 

4. Her Mama always said that her Daddy was a rolling stone. Her Daddy always told her to live because the world was gonna end tomorrow. Each day, the world ended. Yesterday is dead and by noon today will be middle aged and near graying. She just listened, her absent voice moving to her fingers. Her fingers always worked. They kneaded and knitted and painted and polished and drew. She drew stars on the backs of her hands. She memorized the constellations and interpreted the sky in black ink. Jewels of the night gave purpose to vacant language.

 

5. Her Mama had a lot to say about the world. Mama told her, donít count on a man. Your Daddy was a rolling stone. All men consider a hat laid down home. Donít count on a man. They donít come back. But sometimes her Daddy would come back. When he came back Daddy had a lot to say about the world. He told her, the world is gonna end tomorrow. The world ends every day, without fail. Yesterday died, today is dying as I stand here talking. The day hit middle age at noon, and now itís graying. You have to spend time living while the colors vibrant. While youíre still vibrant. You have to live today because tomorrow youíll be dead. You die every day. What you know today will escape in your sleep and when you open your eyes tomorrow youíll be different. Live tomorrow different from today. She listened but she didnít talk. Sometimes, when Mama talked she would talk back. She never talked when Daddy talked.† She just listened. Her voice was absent in her throat and her tongue but it was still there, moving her fingers. Her fingers moved a lot. They kneaded and knitted and painted and polished and dialed and drew. She drew stars on the backs of her hands while she listened to Daddy. His eyes were bright as cobalt and sometimes it hurt her insides to look at them. He talked and talked and she focused on the pictures in her head. She memorized the constellations and interpreted the sky in black ink behind her palms. The jewels of the night gave purpose to the vacant language people spoke. She didnít understand structure and regularity. The world reveled in contrasts and asymmetry. So did she.

 

6. Her Mama had a lot to say about the world. Mama told her, ďDonít count on a man. Men, they leave a lot. Your Daddy was a rolling stone. Men consider wherever their hatís laid down their home. Donít count on a man. Them men, they donít come back. You here me? They donít come back.Ē But sometimes theyíd come back.† There were times her Daddyíd come back when her Mama wasnít there. He would have a lot to say about the world. He told her, ďThe world is gonna end tomorrow. You canít wait to live. The world ends every single day. Thereís no exception. You canít wait to live. Yesterday is dead. Today is dying while we waste our time talking. Donít waste your time. Donít wait to live, little girl. Today, at noon, the world was middle aged. Now, look out the window and you can watch it graying. Donít wait to live because tomorrow youíll be dead. You die every day, little girl. Today you learned about today and tomorrow youíll learn about tomorrow. Everything you learned about today will leak out from your ears while you sleep. Itíll escape and tomorrow youíll start all over. You have to live today, little girl, because tomorrow there might not be a chance. Today, youíre young and today youíre vibrant. Donít wait to live, little girl. Tomorrow you might be gray.Ē She never talked while Daddy talked. She didnít look at him very much neither. His eyes were bright as cobalt and if she looked at Ďem too much it hurt her insides. Daddy would talk and talk but she would just listen. She let her voice be absent from her throat and her tongue and move on to her fingers. Her fingers moved a lot. They kneaded and knitted and painted and polished and dialed and drew. She drew stars on the backs of her hands while she listened to Daddy. His voice drummed around her but she focused on the pictures in her head. She memorized the constellations and interpreted the sky in black ink behind her palms. The jewels of the night gave purpose to the vacant language of peopleís mouths. She didnít understand structure and regularity like they did. The world reveled in contrasts and asymmetry. So did she.