The Unexpected, Anasstassiya Selezneva
It took a village.
One house next to another, four in a row.
Cousins and uncles on each end
with grandparents in the middle.
It took a village to show me how to pick raspberries in the summer time,
my grandmother’s crinkled fingers
yanking them from their
piece by blessed-onyx piece.
It took a village to separate my infant hands
from the funny plant on
Uncle Toto’s house.
It took a village to explain to me
that that funny plant
was the reason my arms were so itchy for a week.
It took a village of brothers
to show me how to wrestle,
how to be merciless,
how to hurt and to love.
It took a village of moms and dads to break up our mock battles
and beaming gentle warfare.
As my words turned cruel,
and my attitude apathetic,
it took a village of friends,
to my silent screams for help
and comply by tearing down my walls
and giving me the chance
to build a heart out of the rubble.
When I was a kid, it took a village
to get me to the top of the mountain.
The mountain where stood a quiet little cabin.
A cabin of logs and plaster.
A cabin which contained a Giant of mossy rock and old-world magic
and his wife who assured me he was only just a man.
When it came time to carry that man
down the stone stairs of that mountain
for the last time,
I joined the village in bearing the weight of his legacy.
It took a village to take a scalpel to my home,
separate all the parts that keep me there,
and transplant myself
in a choking city
brothers and uncles helped me
load everything that I am into that car
and drive to my next destination.
My village grew when my roommates proved
far kinder than any college freshman has the right to expect.
Three roommates is a lot for a freshman to deal with, I am told.
Three friends is the easiest thing in the world.
These people –
my village of broken family members,
part-time comrades, and
houses four in a row –
made me, like brilliant painters only just beginning to work with clay,
slipping up, falling, failing,
but dammit, they’re learning.
We all are.
About the Author
Mathias James · Goucher College
Mathias James is currently a senior at Goucher College in Baltimore MD, where he operates under a different name and pursues a major in History and a minor in English Literature. His writing centers on themes of childhood, brotherhood, family, nostalgia, Irish history and folklore, and queerness. This piece originally appeared in The Preface.
About the Artist
Anastassiya Selezneva · University of Central Arkansas
Anastassiya Selezneva is an international student from Kazakhstan majoring in graphic design. Her work Besides studying, she is passionate about her work as a muralist and children’s book illustrator. “The Unexpected” is the result of her love for experiments with creativity and different media. It first appeared in Vortex.