Strange Fruit | Victoria-Lynn Bell

Inspired by Guggenheim Storylines

The woman sits alone. Clothes drape each side of the mattress like fallen curtains. She perches on the edge like a bird overlooking her nest. The brittle bones and jutting knuckles of her hands are clasped tightly in her lap. She twists them like interlocking gears. Objects cave in around her. Books have been stacked, knocked over, and restacked. The surface of a desk hides beneath an old radio missing a speaker, a single running shoe, office supplies and garbage. The floor is dominated by a a barren crib, the wood bars like ribs curving inwards on an empty chest.

The lamp has no shade over its single bulb. The light seems to pulse from its center, casting shadow into the deep ridges of the woman’s face. The bridge of her nose is sharp and red. She can’t be more than thirty-five, but her eyes are weary. Grooves web out from the corner of each and glisten with wetness. She stares at her palms and winds a shoelace between her shaking fingers.

Beside the bed hangs an array of objects. Wires dangle, precariously supporting a browning sock, a miniature shoe. The remains of a discarded mobile twists at its center, obscuring the shapes of a crescent moon, a star, what could have once been the cutout of a cloud. She sways like the branches of an old tree in a storm as she stands. The shoe’s brother sits in her open palm, creased and worn from her twisting it. She hesitates, then carefully strings it up so it hangs beside its twin, spinning slowly—illuminated by the light from the single lamp.

Kevin Beasley: Strange Fruit