Charif Shanahan, Clean Slate

As a very young woman, my mother drank a glass of bleach. Thinking it water, not tasting the burn, not smelling a single fume. At the hospital, after she had begun to breathe, the color returned to her face. The doctor warned, One chemical will never exit your system. It won’t ever leave you. Though she has survived, she does not know it. Yesterday, on the phone, I said, I’m beginning to understand that I am African. And she said, Now how can that be, child? How can that be?

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