An excerpt to be read


The image, pouring out from behind the screen, is imposing, arresting the thumb's movement. Sent on its way here by another, their thumb lingering, hovering.  To move the image from sight, back into the nospace of the social seems impossible. It doubles the weight of the body, joints and muscles slowed by a stickiness, a ghost hand, a touch on intention. A sharp intake of breath, and then a holding.

A short image, it measures only 2 seconds, this thing that moves, stretches towards. 


The image is flat, the light comes from everywhere and nowhere, depth and texture merely suggested.



A black woman, beautiful, prominent cheekbones, strong jaw but small chin. She is thin, her neck long, rising from her shoulders out of a high mandarin collar. A large gold crescent earring, movement stopped by a tight yellow-gold headwrap. No eyeshadow but her eyebrow is a thin curve, drawn into a taper.

She wears a cape - or a cowl- the black fabric falling down, down past her shoulders; her arms are sleeved in celadon and folded once at the cuff.


The background that frames her is like standing in front of a burning pier at dawn, looking up at the sky just above the conflagration. The bottom of the frame is thick and dark with smoke obscuring everything behind, and as it billows upwards it loses form and opacity, giving way to pale greens and blues. 


She sits, or stands, so that her face is in profile, smoothly adding a final matte layer to her dark lips, fingers lightly gripping a long gold and black lipstick tube, her wrist twisting just slightly, once, twice, her arm rises just so to reach her upper lip. Finished, her arm falls as she turns her wrist down, a liquid movement. She lightly  purses her lips, and then, another subtle and tiny movement, she lowers her head, examining herself from another angle in her gold-backed compact mirror, held between her thumb and pinkie, balanced against the tips of the rest. Her fingernails are short, filed to a thin point, the same colour as her skin, a dark green brown.


It strikes, in the chest, just under and left of the sternum. A dull ache. Something like being fantasy, fantastic. These movements that touch, speak, set the body shaking. Something like spilling forth, a rising bubble of whispering, a resounding.


The image breaches time, memory.  Unravels the body to reach the bone. Emitting speech that cannot be heard, only heard. It stirs a longing, a throbbing.


It comes from within and without, this force that compels and propels. Lodged in the bones, and in the genes. It is the feel of hot fingers pressed against the thighs, a tingling brush of tightly curled hair on the neck. A ghostly touch - that lingers - warm, and slowly bathes the body. A contact that lasts and spreads through moments. Lips parting against the ear, brushing the flesh as they speak, in a voice that cannot be heard, only felt.


They are calling, wishing luck on this finding. A finding of them, those that came before, the names they gave themselves, the path their bodies shook. Their touch, rising to this image, from this image, through this image, is pointing, carrying.



a place

 - Illustrations for Libations, Attestations, Affirmations.



Ebun Sodipo
artist | writer