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From the Diary of Sally Hemings

“White waves—a bitter dream—my mother’s mother in the lower deck—wet and cold in the blue-black night.

Dahomey child, betrothed when she was young, before she knew of white men or the sea.

A thin veil of fog. Her family brings a farmer, a boy not yet a man, to marry with the business of the home. Each dawn she climbs the palm tree and touches wine with her hands. A feast prepared. The gods must have a hand in this! A young goat sacrificed, okra, oranges, a basket of yams laid at her feet. She stands with old friends in new finery, her buba and iro an odd-colored blue, hair in beads, piled to the sky, tapping the palm wine from the palm tree.

Kidnapped before the roast meat was cold, snatched away to America; she was a stranger to the sea. White waves in the blue-black sea. Now a voyage of a different sort. Maria won’t go unless I come along. White waves in the blue-black sea till we land in port.”

Story That Kills You

What I’d read him was nothing more than nonsense put to paper in my free time, sheltering my hope that life would not always be what it had been until now, a good life in the dullest sense of goodness.

Over

Why I Chose It: Michigan Quarterly Review Reader Matthew Wamser introduces Glen Hirshberg’s “Over” from our Summer 2020 Issue. A warning: It is so easy to fall in love with the father in this story. In the narrator’s hands, the father comes alive as a truly specific

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