Something about two jays crossing a silver sky this morning got me thinking about July*, one of my enslaved characters. How she might think about suffering: one minute bearable, the next not. The jays squawked to each other in their language of season. Their language of season does not get weighed down by human travail. A measurement of light, is all. A call to a mate. “I’m here! I’m here!” They are high enough up that they look small and the vibrant blue of their bodies and wings is barely visible. But, I hear them. I hear them. And I take heart, for in their conversation, I hear references to spring.
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* The enslaved were often named after days of the week or months of the year. This was not an objectification that came with being commodities, as one might think at first blush, but rather, an African custom. “July” actually was a man’s name and is one of the few names of record from the time period. In the fall of 1739, a male bondman named July hid “his” family during the Stono Slave Rebellion, thus saving their lives. He was later rewarded with his freedom, a hat, a pair of breeches, and shoes. Since there is so little recorded history about the enslaved, fidelity to the record in the small matter of names feels important. For now, though, I am attached to one of the bondwomen being called ‘July’.