Toni Asante Lightfoot

Notes on Debridement

— In the summer of ’76, I groomed horses for my aunt. I was eight and didn’t do it well. I was in love with their musculature. Their big beautiful eyes would ask me to sit and stare inside them. I felt them tell me stories.

— One day, my aunt let out a rebel yell. We followed the gunshot’s report to the last row of corn. The fire she set burned through the snake’s black belly. White eggs boiled out like a Dali clock off the branch from which he hung.

— Running through the woods one night, I fell on an old beer bottle. A nurse dressed the single stigmata on my small palm. Every few days she ripped out the bandage, repacked the wound. The pain almost killed me. This debridement allowed flesh and nerves to reform with no visible scars. 

— In 2007, I said yes to forever with a man whose eyes reminded me of the horses of my childhood. I was to be his bride. 

— Christmas 2010, my husband sits in an internet café in Africa. Through a marvel of technology, I watch him wipe sweat from his brow. I hold up the handwritten card from his girlfriend I found in our home. We search each other’s eyes. He reaches through the screen to rub my flanks down, straighten my wild mane.

— That night I stand in the hottest shower possible, scrubbing myself free of him and her. Our would-be second child forces its way into this world as a bloody gelatinous mess. I watch as it washes down the drain. I rip open every wound I ever had and begin cleaning the ancient debris. 

— Five years of sitting with each wound, unpacking and cleaning them. Repacking them with all the love and tenderness I could. Now, I walk by the lake with friends who tell me I look good. I go to art galleries. All that was a shredded mess in me has knitted back together. I carry the weight of my memories but I have no visible scars.

Toni Asante Lightfoot is a native of Washington, DC. There she fell in love with poetry, artists, science and scientists. Lightfoot started hosting poetry readings in 1993 and has continued to host readings in Boston, Trinidad & Tobago, and Chicago. She has published several chapbooks. In 2005, she won the Guild Complex's Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards and has hosted the GBOMA every year since. Lightfoot was the Director of Writing Programs at Young Chicago Authors. She has developed curricula that teaches creative writing through the lens of science and science through the lens of creative writing. Her work has been published in Torch, Muzzle, and Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC, and she was guest editor of Beltway Poetry's It's Your Mug 15th Anniversary Issue. Lightfoot is currently working on her Masters of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine at Pacific College and lives in Chicago, IL. To read more by this author: Toni Asante Lightfoot: Fall 2001 Toni Asante Lightfoot: Guest Editor, It's Your Mug Anniversary Issue, Summer 2009