Marriage has been a subject of contemplation in my mind for a period of just over one month.  It was initiated by a brief Twitter discussion with Nichole Black regarding the necessity for reform in the institution and the desire for a society that would not view with such disdain any woman who was comfortable in her singlehood.

Soon thereafter, Nichole penned an article entitled “Thou Shall Not Submit: Christianity, Marriage And Dissent” which I invested myself in reading later becoming distracted by some scriptural commentary included in the article.  Also during this period, I decided that I should pick up a text which I had been planning to read entitled “Contraband Marriage” by a writing colleague named Tichaona Chinyelu.  The convergence of these two texts in my mind during this period brought me to reconsider where I stood on the issue of marriage as I have traveled the spectrum in the course of the past ten years as noted in my final review of “Contraband Marriage”.

I stand at a shifting point somewhere between a communal commitment between two people and an anarchic rejection of the principles that currently inhabit the marital institution in most people’s mind.  I don’t imagine these thoughts will settle upon any one position soon, but when I completed my reading of “Contraband Marriage”, this piece spoke of what I perceived as the greatest threat to the marital institution.  When it serves to make both parties of the commitment less free to express their whole selves, it becomes a threat to creativity, innovation and the evolution of the family unit that serves as the foundation of a community.

Noose On My Finger by Tichaona Chinyelu

It’s a thin circle of precious metal
that was stolen from the earth
and brought to a store far from its source
where it was bought by a brother
doing another brother a favor.
Then it was blessed by a chaplain
I have neither love nor respect for
and put on my finger.

It is not good
but I struggle to see it as good.
I have our names etched on the underside
the side that touches my flesh.
I wear it for almost three years
until you tighten it like it’s a noose
until it starts to strangle my flesh
until I realize that if I keep it on
I’ll die.

And I wasn’t born to die.
My mother’s hips didn’t crush me
when I was in the womb.
My father’s defection didn’t stop me
from sliding down the canal.
I wasn’t born to die.

We play tug of war with it.
I take it off.
You put it back on.
We go back and forth
until my finger is bruised and battered.
I tell you
with my hand in this condition
I can’t write.

You smile.

I look at the smile.
I listen to what it says.

It is not good.
It is not good for me.

I play tug of war with myself.
And I win.

I remove the noose from around my finger.