Summer Durant – Fractions

Curated By Ralph

"The Road Not Taken" is a source of inspiration for me, because it encourages me to seize opportunities and chart my own course in life.

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In Kindergarten, I accidentally broke a porcelain sink. I watched it fall two feet in slow motion before shattering across the tile floors. I wanted to run to absolve myself of guilt But my chest lingered for awhile. It wanted to watch all of the pieces settle, Wanted to study this breaking moment like a road map, Wanted to make sure each shard found a happily ever after. Eventually my feet convinced the rest of me That this was not the right time, That we would have plenty more moments of shattering. The first time I was told to break something on purpose It was to make a fraction. The teacher said, a fraction is one number divided by another, So I asked, what gave the bottom number The authority to tear down a bird in flight. The teacher said the numerator goes on top, And the denominator goes on the bottom. So I asked, well which way is up And which direction does gravity pull a fragmented body. The teacher said it is improper For the numerator to be bigger than the denominator, Called this a mixed number. I looked at the unbalanced ratio of my mixed hands And I wondered what God would ever build so impolite a body. The first time I was told to divide myself, I was between seven and eight years old. A mixed number, 15 over 2. I didn't know much about fractions. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to break up a person. The first time I looked in the mirror, it cracked down the middle, And that's not a metaphor, it's just true. I remember thinking my body looks so strange split in half Like an unsurvivable thing. But the first time I looked in the mirror I was whole and the mirror was shattered.

I was one body and the mirror was a mosaic staring back at me, Which is to say, I was not born of division. Partition and segregation are in my history But my body is not repeating itself. The Indian and black women inside of me are not whittling my bones hollow. I am all denominator and all numerator, All unbalanced seesaw but you don't think a seesaw broken, You don't demand it pick sides. You don't watch a pendulum swing and call it a liar where it lands And all of this is to say I am neither bird bones Nor pendulum, nor spectacle, nor object, But I did break a mirror once and a sink. I did watch the pieces fall two feet in slow motion, Lingered in this breaking moment like it was a road map and I was the sink. I did watch. I did wait. I did tuck a shard beneath my tongue. I did bleed and the halves of me seeped into each other, Mixed into one impolite body, one unbalanced ratio. I was as whole as I would ever be. I am as whole as I will ever be. (cheers and applause)

Hey... I'm Jasper!

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