“I once knew a woman named Hannah Peace.
I say “knew,” but nothing could be less accurate.
I was perhaps four years old
when she was in the town where I lived.
I don’t know where (or even if) she is now,
or to whom she was related then.
. . . . I have a memory of her and it’s like this:
the color of her skin—the matte quality of it.
Something purple around her.
Also eyes not completely open.
There emanated from her an aloofness
that seemed to me kindly disposed.
But most of all I remember her name—
or the way people pronounced it.
Never Hannah or Miss Peace.
Always Hannah Peace—and more.
Something hidden—some awe perhaps,
but certainly some forgiveness.
When they pronounced her name,
they (the women and the men) forgave her something.
. . . .What is useful—definitive—is the galaxy of emotion
that accompanied the woman
as I pursued my memory of her;
not the woman herself.
. . . .There is no yeast for me in a real-life person,
or else there is so much it is not useful—
it is done bread, already baked.
The pieces (and only the pieces)
are what begin the creative process for me.”
Toni Morrison, from The Source of Self-Regard
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