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August 19th, 2010 - Shanta Lee Gander

(Photo Cred: Chinue Clifford)

This is the day after you said you wanted to talk, and for a week, chaos reigned every part of my insides. Most things in life give warnings, like the low growl of a dog that is about to bite or the way that water gets into the cracks of bridges which freeze and then expand fissures right before the bang of a collapse.

I ignored the collapse that was to come especially when you had said you needed space weeks before because your therapist suggested it. In your own words, this is the same therapist who once described herself as part alien, part human, who had the ability to move objects around the room.

On this day, I awoke in our bed after bouncing between a friend’s house and stealing our camping gear to sleep in the woods. You had decided to take me back. I felt found again, but I was careful not to get excited about the news. I always felt the fullest after dining upon the crumbs you continued to feed me. I could feel the way morning and evening whispers of fall with summer’s breath in between. I told your friend we could resume planning your surprise 40th birthday party.

I had ignored the way that space infiltrated the cracks within our relationship. I paid little attention to the next steps after my position as a director within a municipal health department, still high from having won the RFP process. High from arriving at the point of making $75K a year on a two-year contract. I became my work and filled time with friends to show you that I knew how to be busy. To illustrate all the ways that I can mute my shine and intensity. Silently I'd say, See all the ways I am not broken?


If I could, the Me of Now would travel back ten years ago to pull her former self aside and say, “You don’t know me yet, please listen…” I’d warn the Me of Then that something would change that today, adding, “If you can learn to let go, you will be gifted with trust in your intuition. You will know love.”

My future self would ask to spend the day inside our favorite place because a decade later, it would no longer exists. The two of us would sit in the back room and order the chai that would become the lifelong favorite. My future self would serve the tea and tell the Me of Then, “Someday, you will be go to the Land of Chai and learn how to make it yourself” Because all versions of myself ingest magic, we’d both be tickled by this moment.

I’d describe how our adventurous spirit would take us to many places around the globe and untapped territory within ourselves. “Don’t hide your full self because of anyone, they aren’t worth it,” I’d cryptically warn.

She’d refuse to hear any of it. She’d tell me about marriage plans and talk of children. Blinded by persistence, she’d rush back to him, ignoring the widening cracks.


Shanta Lee Gander is an artist and multi-faceted professional. As an artist, her endeavors include writing prose, poetry, investigative journalism, and photography. Her poetry, prose, and personal essays have been featured in DAME Magazine, BLAVITY, The Crisis Magazine, Rebelle Society, on the Ms. Magazine Blog, The Commons weekly newspaper. Shanta Lee is the co-author of Ghosts of Cuba: An Interracial Couple’s Exploration of Cuba in the Age of Trump—Told in Images & Words (in manuscript). She is currently the director of outreach and publicity at Mount Island, a small press and magazine dedicated to rural LGBTQ+ and POC voices/artists. Shanta Lee gives lectures, "Bearing Witness and the Endurance of Voice," on the life of Lucy Terry Prince - the earliest known African American poet in the United States - as a member of the Vermont Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Shanta Lee is an MFA candidate in Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has an MBA from the University of Hartford and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality from Trinity College. Shanta Lee’s work can be viewed at

Shanta would like you to learn more about Mount Island, a literary journal and small press dedicated to help amplify the voices of rural LGBTQ+ and POC writers.


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