I learned that before I was born I had lived
in men who were steady and firm, lords of themselves,
and none could respond and all remained calm. — Cesare Pavese

It feels like one of those spiraling roads of starlight that appear in cartoons, the ones that shimmer and seem transparent but hold the weight of animated people with flat feet and perfect posture. 25394583

This work of finding people, stories – the ones written on pages of crackling, antiquated paper and the ones that linger like anxious school children hoping that soft-handed woman will tussle their heads . .

It feels like I have found what I was made for.

I reach back into history – mine, yours, ours – and pinch facts and dates, names and ages from the sky. My ancestor Emanuel and her grandmother Annie.  A map of a land plat that borders another, the etched-out clue of a kinship, a friendship.  The word “blacksmith” on a census.  All sparkling fragments of stories undone by time . . . ready to be rewoven into the stories of a now, the stories of us.

This writing life, this place where ancestors become more real than the neighbors I almost never see, this practice that makes my desk holy and the candle I light behind my silver laptop sacred.  I would not trade it.

For here, I find the strength of generations, and the community of time. . . in men and women gone before . . . and who breathe with gray-gold breath into us even now.

What is sacred to you about your work?

Thank you to everyone who shared the giveaway of The Slaves Have Names. It was a huge success with over 2,600 people downloading the book.  Thank you so much.