Spheres & Circles

Circles & Spheres

Isaiah Lopaz, 2020

You have been a constant force that I have found myself being drawn towards across lifetimes and localities. We have been governed by laws we did not write, some we could manipulate, others we could only manoeuvre, our fates outlined in numerous languages.


Sometimes I chose not to stretch my shape into human compositions. 


In one era I was the soil which faithfully produced crops, allowing you to feed your entire family.


In another period I was a body of water that you migrated to each year, a spring where you relieved yourself from the incendiary rays of the sun. 


Once I was a flock of birds flying north, an omen for you to run south, far away from your enemies. 


When you were born into a family where all of your relations were stout and sure of themselves, a most beloved uncle died of mysterious circumstances. Having heard that I was a diviner, you began to lay with me to see for yourself if what they whispered about us was really true. You were a believer who did not remember that he was a  believer in this term, but then you improved as a hunter, returning from each excursion with plenty of game. Joining yourself to me, made you a stranger to headaches, fevers, and other afflictions. For decades you made your way to my flesh. In your sixties you wrestled with twenty year olds winning every match. The current streaming through your blood subsided long after your eldest son’s hair turned completely white. 


The first time we were haunted by buckruhs you knew before I did that they were not to be trusted. “They burn so easily by the light of the sun”, you remarked. You wondered how they could breathe with such thin noses, how they could speak in that n’yao, je, n’yao, je... that passed for a language, emanating from ivory lips that were almost non-existent, lines that disappeared into the recesses of their mouths. “I don’t trust these strangers who come with so many questions and yet lack the vocabulary to understand the simplest answers laid before them.” They saw with their own eyes how desired you were, and the place that you had among my wives. “The problem”, as you described it, “is that they cannot see anything beyond themselves.” We did not know what was coming. We did not know that our kin would one day call upon our deities in the nasal swishes and sighs that exhausted us. We did not know that those who remained would forget and even allege the impossibility of our union, which mirrored countless others in the foreground of our culture.


I found myself living half of a life as a so-called house slave on Graves plantation. Being one of the best woodworkers in the county, you may have had the chance to buy your freedom if Massa Graves had the courage or even the good sense to live as an eternal bachelor, and to secretly frequent the home of a childhood friend who revealed that he would never marry when it was just the river, the moon, and the secrets they kept between themselves. He began meddling with you. At the same time his brother couldn’t stop eyeing me and we were certain that we would be separated. He found us dancing together one night in your cabin. A business trip the next day gave us pause to plan; fight or  flee. We thought about poisoning him. My mother said she would help us, but this scheme involved all three of us risking our lives. When she suggested that we leave an offering to simbis who dwelled in the river close to Eusaw plantation, we did as she instructed. That night you saw a simbi who looked like you but when he opened his mouth his voice sounded like rushing water. “If you bring him to the river, you bring him to his death, a death that cannot be traced back to you.” When Graves returned we made ourselves scarce. Mother served him and the missus glass after glass of her famous peach brandy, which the unhappy, unfulfilled couple drank without protest, Massa Graves waiting for the misus to pass out at the table as was the custom. It was he who suggested that you make your way to the water together, pistol tucked into his back pocket, your end, and not his, embedded in his mind’s eyes. You suggested the river by Eusaw plantation where he was certain that not even his god would see him commit not one, but two sins. He had planned to use you one last time. When Graves bid you to take him, the water whispered for you to submit yourself for a moment to the current of the river. You did as you were told and kneeled below the surface of the river in silent prayer. In your place a simbi rose, contoured after your own image but made entirely of water. It wrapped its arms quickly around Graves’ waist and without warning shot waves of water into his nose. Graves fell backwards into an aqua pura orb.  As he descended below the surface you ascended, tossed by the river on to the shore. Graves’ body was never found. Buckruh’s who searched for him in these waters were lost in storms that seemed to come from nowhere, or were found hunched over with glasses of water nearby. Others were discovered slumped over in bathtubs who’s waters simmered and bubbled. You died in your fifties because you had an affinity for sweets. I died just before bed one night, watching our granddaughter giggle in her sleep as I drew my last breath. 


As the end of the 21st century drew near, the greed of buckruhs fueled by colonialism, imperialism, racism, and capitalism made the earth an uninhabitable place. The wealthiest buckruhs had generations to prepare for the inevitably of this outcome. Pooling their resources, forming unlikely but fruitful alliances, they developed advanced technology and charted new territories in a solar system that they referred to as the Commonwealth Quadrat. Three ships, resembling mega skyscrapers were dedicated to the preservation of the human race and as it has been for centuries, the human race was defined by buckruhs. The human race consisted solely of buckruhs. They decided without question to save only themselves. 


Low Country women and femmes who practiced conjure and talked to the dead began to have visions. They saw not their impending doom. They saw the survival of their lineages without end. At dayclean they gathered themselves. They wheeled, walked, or carried one another to fields, plains, shores, swamps and forests. They formed circles where they hummed in unison a chorus which overpowered the songs of cicadas during the height of that last summer. Solutions as intricate as sweetwata baskets enveloped their collective consciousness. They began to build sustainable ships from available materials. Ships that would send children under the age of twelve to a new world that they would not colonise or conquer, a world where they would not be regarded as subjects. Their kin would be assimilated in this new environment on a cellular level, and this fantastic planet populated by sentient beings, flaura and fauna, would integrate the traditions, cultures, and practices of these new arrivals into existing frameworks, models, and cosmologies. Gullah Geechee women delivered sonnets in sign language or sang songs that contained instructions for building space crafts, their hymns translated into languages spoken in the Global South. Low Country women, and girls began wearing intricate braided hairstyles which charted the long journey ahead, with celebrated women and femmes who were photographed, often ensuring that these maps were seen across the globe. Wade. Wade in de wata. Wade in da wata chilrin. Wade in de wata. God’s gonna trouble de wata.


When the time came to save their children, they did not say goodbye. They knew that they would become ancestors and that they would continue to communicate with their descendents without interruption or end. In Lunar histories every child learns the fate of buckruhs. Buckruhs did as buckruhs often do. On one of the three ships it has been archived that the buckruhs squandered and squabbled all of their rations and when there was nothing else to eat, they ate of their own flesh. Only their bones survive them, their ship, a mausoleum floating forever through space, going nowhere at a glacial pace. On another ship where buckruhs hoarded things that they had no use for, such as gold, diamonds, and other objects that should have been left behind including cars that they could not drive, and whole libraries containing books written by poets and philosophers who’s ideas fueled so-called periods of enlightenment and innovation, ways of viewing the world which resulted in buckruh’s destroying it... these are the things they chose to hold onto even though it was evident that the integrity of their vessel was being challenged. When those in power realised that they would have to lighten their load or perish, they chose to eject not the things they had no use for, it was other buckruhs that they turned on invoking xenophobia, historical hierarchies, and the nationalism of nations whos territories were now light year’s away. After five days of war, where further division occurred, including exclusion based on gender, class, and age, there were only two male buckruhs left. Two people who could not pilot the ship. They didn’t realise that they were about to crash into a snow white sun. They were too busy counting silver and gold. On the last remaining ship, buckruhs who’s food had the texture and taste of glue realised that they were being exploited for their labour and that they were never meant to land on  Rothschild rock, that their feet would never touch ground on Macintosh moon, that they would never swim in the copper colored rivers of Goldman Sachs sound. The untermensch revolted. If they were going to die in outer space, they would die free and on their own terms. They perished, but they did not die as free people. How could they?


Approximately ninety-seven percent of the ships engineered according to the plans communicated through the work of Low Country women reached their intended and final destination. They were met by beings shaped like spheres and circles. These circles and spheres had the ability to mirror the minds of the terrans who landed softly on ground that had never been thought of as something to possess. Through the process of mirroring spheres and circles were able to draw from memories recorded in the cells of the children who survived the cataclysm. Through this process the younglings gained access to knowledge that they themselves had not acquired, they remembered things that they did not experience. They became familiar with places they had not traveled to or from, and perceived time in the fabric of lifespans they had never lived. They found themselves at home in a diaspora that did not entail fracture. 


Circles and spheres valuing knowledge above all else encouraged the terrans who they accepted as kin, to talk to the dead, to practice conjure, hoodoo and other related spiritual practises. They prayed, communed, divined, and engaged in ritual alongside us and in that first generation we were again, drawn to one another. We had not dwelled in human consciousness for centuries, but sometimes we situated ourselves on human forms, choosing to be strands of hair growing on top of each other, or thighs rubbing against one another in infancy, middle age, and elderhood, we embodied the full lips of descendants who laughed often but kept their words to themselves, and thus ensured that we rarely parted. We were never kings and queens, we were healers, farmers, nomads, caretakers, and wanderers, and in this life we were again simple folk. You assigned yourself to the gender of wisdom and worked as an architect. I was preparing for my initiation. From afar you watched me attach my prosthetics made of chastuhn trees, just after a mid morning swim. Sharing a mango the size of your head with your sister and your daughter, you remarked, “How good him bin look.” I pretended not to hear you, smiling and tinkering with the rapidly growing roots which formed the base of my feet, and finally my toes. Your sister giggled as she querried, “What you maginating?”  “Li gal tie yo mout”, you tisked. As soon as I stood up you shouted, “You speak Gullah?” “Aw”, I replied watching mango juice slide down your chin. “Mi self tink me bi see you fo now. Come oba ya and crack e teet”, you beckoned, “How oona da do?” “Mi glad fa see oona”, I said as I walked towards you...and in this particular life, that is how we began again. 

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