Underneath the Ash Tree Print - 12 x 18Regular price $350.00
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It was early in the morning and I was surrounded by thousands of people, all waiting for their signal. Looking around, I wondered what they were running away from. In the misty air, being pressed up against so many warm bodies felt comforting, like I was cradled by a massive human touch. It felt good.
Shortly after Asher died, my sister Besima convinced me to run a marathon with her. She thought it would help me deal with my grief. I think I was half drunk when I agreed. That year, the New York winter had no mercy. In preparation for the race, every day for eight months I ran with my postpartum body through blizzards, storms and muddy Brooklyn streets. I ran and ran. I grieved my way down Clinton Street and all the way to Prospect Park. I grieved all that was, all that wasn’t and all that could have been.
The night before the race, I questioned if I would actually be able to carry my body to the finish line. I contemplated ways to escape. Perhaps I could just fake being violently ill. As the marathoners shuffled closely together toward the front line, my sister looked over at me and smiled. Her eyes were like a painting made of love. “You can do this,” she said. I nodded, but deep down we both knew that was doubtful.
The loud bang! We took off like wild beasts out of a cage. At first my sister and I ran together, but she slowly faded into the fog ahead. Then runner after runner passed me and disappeared, too. Suddenly, I was alone.
At mile 8, the music stopped. My plastic jacket was filling up with sweat, which dripped and sprayed each time I flung my arms up in the air, but I refused to take it off and reveal my hollow pregnancy belly. I looked down at my feet and my sneakers were untied, yet again. I stopped on the side of the road and began to cry. From out of nowhere, an older woman ran over to me. “Are you all right?” Through tears, I mumbled that my shoelaces keep untying. She looked down at my feet, then back up at my face. “Darling, that’s not how you tie your shoes,” she said, sweetly. She bent down and with her freckled, pale hands, correctly tied my shoe laces. In that instant, I realized that no one had ever taught me how to tie my shoes. I wondered if this was the reason why I had been training all these months, so that I could finally experience this tender moment between a mother and child, which I had missed 30 years ago.
For a while, she held me as I cried. Then, together, we ran to the finish line.
A limited edition of 63 signed and dated, 12 in. x 18 in. prints
are available for purchase.
Archival Pigment Print on Hahnemühle German Etching
The paper is acid-free, 100% alpha cellulose and weighs 310 gsm