In the swamp I accept I am not anything. I belong to it, the way a child belongs to her great-grandmother. She owns me, she teaches me. She is so old I have no reason to rebel. She is so old she has no reason to demand who I become. She knows it doesn’t matter. In the end, I will become like her. I am not anything because I already am.
This is what the swamp knows. So, she lets me walk.
In the swamp of my mother, God created me. In the swamp of my mother my twin brother grew above me, like a bean, and between these two hearts I was raised. And so it was that I learned about drums in the swamp, long before I had a name.
In the swamp of my grandmother, my mother grew. And in the swamp of my great-grandmother, so the green of my grandmother sprouted on moss, and my mother would name me Mary Marlowe, my great-grandmother’s name. When I was born I came with their sorrow. I carried it in my bones. The swamp carries my bones through dark waters, it cools my bones. It is a clear dark water that carries my bones, and I do not feel any sorrow.
This is what the swamp knows.
In the swamp, I am not afraid. This, too, the swamp knows as she carries my bones. She has made me not anything except who I am, and by this I know I am not brave, either. In the swamp the air is pure. Not clean pure but pure in meaning, like the water is pure in meaning, like the sun means what it means. In the swamp, these three are as real as frogs, as a green leaf, as one alligator frozen on a log.
Woman, the swamp tells me, forget what you know. It is no crime to be in the world and of it.
That is all you are, anyway.