Anaphora, from “Aftermath” by Elane Johnson:
After the skies broke open with a stunning crack about two o’clock in the morning, brilliant flashes of blue flooding the Winnebago like strobe lights; after the rain cut rivulets through the sand, long scratches of some malevolent creature obviously displeased with the earth; after Kennie and his dad had been out on the beach before the wan sunrise, fishing for supper; after the jeep’s rear wheels made themselves at home, settled into the saturated sand, so Ken dug them out, leaving the valley and the mountain, a man-made dune;…
Epistrophe, from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck:
I’ll be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build — why, I’ll be there. See?
Anaphora, from “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check.
Choose Your Own Adventure, from In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Page 1, you wake up, and the air is milky and bright. The room glows with a kind of effervescent contentment, despite the boxes, and clothes, and dishes. You think to yourself, this is the kind of morning you could get used to.
When you turn over, she is staring at you. The luminous innocence of the light curdles in your stomach. You don't remember ever going from awake to afraid so quickly.
“You were moving all night,” she says. “Your arms and elbows touched me. You kept me awake.” If you apologize profusely, go to page 2. If you tell her to wake you up next time your elbows touch her in your sleep, go to page 3. If you tell her to calm down, go to page 5.
I choose page 2. Page 2. “I’m so sorry,” you tell her. “I really didn’t mean to. I just move my arms around a lot in my sleep.” You try to be light about it. “Did you know my dad does the same thing? The sleeping damsel swoon? So weird. I must have--” “Are you really sorry?” she says. “I don't think you are.” “I am,” you say.
You want the first impression of the morning to return to you, its freshness, its light. “I really am.” “Prove it.” “How?” “Stop doing it.” “I told you. I can't.” “Fuck you,” she says, and gets out of bed. You follow her all the way to the kitchen. Go to page 7.
Page 7, breakfast. You scramble some eggs, make some toast. She eats mechanically and leaves the plate on the table. “Clean that up,” she says as she goes to the bedroom to get dressed.
If you stare mutely at the dirty plate and all you can think about is Clara Barton, the feminist icon of your youth who had to teach herself how to be a nurse and endured abuse from men telling her what to do at every turn, and you remember being so angry and running to your parents and asking them if women still got told what was right or proper, and your mom said, yes, and your dad said, no, and you, for the first time had an inkling of how complicated and terrible the world was, go to page 10. If you do as you are told, go to page 8. If you tell her to do it herself, go to page 5.
Page 5-- are you kidding? You’d never do this. Don’t try to convince any of these people that you’d stand up for yourself for one second. Get out of here. Go to the next chapter. You’re out.
Wait. No. Let’s try that again. I go to page 8. Page 8. As you’re washing the dishes, you think to yourself, maybe I should put a tack on my forehand. Maybe I should be a better person. Go to page 1.
Page 1. You wake up, and the air is milky and bright. The room glows with a kind of effervescent contentment, despite the boxes, and clothes, and dishes. You think to yourself this is the kind of morning you could get used to. When you turn over, she is staring at you. The luminous innocence of the light curdles in your stomach. You don't remember ever going from awake to afraid so quickly.