you were born in a hurricane

amber williams-king

The waters are coming; eating away at the edges of the land, swallowing so slowly we can barely see it. The waters are coming; rivers bulging, streams swelling, oceans reaching wave over wave towards the centre of the earth. The waters are coming; up to our waists now, over our shoulders, crashing through the doors, rushing up stairs, pushing us out onto zinc roofs scattered like lily pads amongst the waves.

When we were little girls, my sister and I used to watch with awe through the bedroom window as the wind wrapped galvanize around tree trunks like pieces of ribbon. We played relentlessly, darting from bed to mattress to mattress to bed over and around the bodies of sleepless relatives and villagers, all taking shelter in our house on the hill. We laughed and cuddled and told stories as granny fried sardines over candle-flame and mommy rushed back and forth with towels and kerosene, fiddling with the antenna of her little radio, searching for the weatherman’s voice through endless static. Then, my sister and I were too naive to understand the consequences of those lashing winds, too little to know it was just a glimpse of what was possible. We were too far away from the industries belching gasses into the air, churning up the seas, scorching the earth to know what was to come. But here it is, island after island disappearing beneath the surface.

But if the waters come for us tonight, where will they be in the morning?

My heart clenches like a fist everytime I think about what air we will breathe; how much fresh water may cost; how the heat will wrap around us like a weighted blanket, so heavy we may hardly move. Even now, this is life for so many. What will the skies look like? How far will the buildings and greed of our world stretch? Will we create a new way? Or will we ride a star across the galaxy to another beginning?

I don’t know what lies ahead. There are no promises. But there are the stories we tell ourselves.

When I was little, hiding from the pounding rain, the haunting wind, the incessant thunder, my mother would tell me, “you were born in a hurricane, and my mother, and her mother before that, so what is there to be afraid of? When the waters come, let them bring you home.”

Let the water bring you home.

amber williams-king is an Antiguan artist and writer, currently living and working in Tkaronto. Her creative writing on queerness, intimacy and childhood has appeared in several print and digital anthologies. She has received several grants from the Ontario Arts Council, and has been selected as a finalist for the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist award, as well as the JRG Award for Artists with Disabilities.

Newly graduated with an MES degree, amber williams-king’s photographs open the year-long exhibition/event series FRACTURE at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, York University. FRACTURE is also a companion and prelude show to everything slackens in a wreck-, which will open at the Ford Foundation Gallery in the Spring. FRACTURE and everything slackens are curated by Andil Gosine.

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