Vectors of Flight – Michigan Quarterly Review

Vectors of Flight

Published in Spring 2024 Online Folio

You wanna fly (Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon)

The earth provides, makes us pillows-as-clouds that we can touch and wrap ourselves in, and instead of delighting in the miracle of a Cumulus we could reach, greed menaced our mother and enlisted youth, like pictured here, into turning the mundane—grasp the ball and twist—into a machine we will never recover from. Yet, despite this, the child has furious and fluttering visions for themself and the world. They let the flight of the birds and butterflies remind them that they can fly too.

Black women were armed (Toni Morrison, Jazz)

Toni Morrison writes in Jazz, “Black women were armed, black women were dangerous and the less money they had the deadlier the weapon they chose.” I recast her proverb against a galaxy of possibility that is animated by the infinite resource of boundary-breaking, fence-destroying, heart-thumping love. The precarity of human life swells in the afterlives of ideologies that rendered the breathing, fleshy, vibrant lives of Black and Indigenous people globally as savage, yet Black women were armed and remain armed to protect life.

their sight must guide our flight

Tamara Pierre, featured in a National Geographic magazine, is photographed here by a 14-year-old vision who sees the beauty in Tamara’s thoughtfully placed hibiscus. The genius of children’s creativity and perspective threatens adults’ desires for control and worthiness. The flower does nothing, and it is revered. The planets move, and their celestial spins are charted meticulously. And the child’s vision, piercing and darting, finds nectar around every corner in the shadow of empire. What if the child was the flower that stopped us in our tracks, and what if her movement—not our control of it—was the horoscope that helped us harness the present and future?


Within the colonized choreography of relationality are ruptures where connection and care are possible. Like octopus eggs featured here, just hatched, coming into our being on our own terms, mentorless and curious, we find community where we can choose to take flight. If we are lucky, in the universe created in the crucible of intimacy, we relate. My sister saw this collage and said “it’s us.” It is. It’s you and me, sisters, and I embrace and give you the sacred kiss on a cheek, the only recognition I ever need.

Emergent Pedagogies

This collage is a thank you note to the animal teachers (inspired by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, adrienne maree brown, Josie Green, and many others) who bolster and embolden my Black and queer feminist education sensibilities. Most octopuses are parentless, so they have to come into their own possibility through discovery, self-making through mimicry, mistakes, and movement. Unlike the hooded raptor, who is robbed of sight as they are trained into docility, the octopus uses witness to navigate the inevitable and extreme danger that surrounds them. As the school building only grows in its terrain of control and the Black teacher—figured here—experiences mounting discipline, the natural world is an integral classroom and teacher of the nature of learning and knowledge production beyond conquest. May we witness the lessons and use them with expedience.

This piece is from our Spring 2024 African Writing Online Folio, an online-exclusive extension of our special issue, “African Writing: A Partial Cartography of Provocations,” guest edited by Chris Abani. You can read more from our Spring 2024 issue, available for purchase in print and digital forms here.

Anna Almore is a relative, learner, and doctoral candidate in the Joint Program in English and Education at the University of Michigan. She received her bachelor’s in English with certificates in African American and American studies at Princeton University. Her work has been published in Scalawag Magazine, The AjA Project, and EducationNC, with forthcoming publications in Urban Education

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