The plot of her undoing begins with his dominion. It begins in the fifteenth century with a papal bull, with a philosopher at his desk, pen in hand, as he sorts the world into categories of genus and species. It begins with a bill of sale, with a story in the newspaper that enumer-ates her crimes, with a note appended to the file: she answers questions easily, but appears stupid; it begins with a wanted poster that reduces the history of her life to a single word—condemned. The plot of her undoing begins with a man in his study writing a tome about the Americas, the species, the fauna, the races, it is a compendium illustrated with botanical drawings, architectural plans, sketches of farm buildings, and a microscopic view of her scarf-skin. The plot of her undoing begins with the violence of reason. It begins with an entry in the ledger that itemizes her as number 71, a meager girl, and forever erases her name. It begins with her rape by the ship’s crew. It begins with the stillbirth, with the abortifacients, with the children lost at sea, with the babies unloved, with the calculations of maternal mortality, with negative formulas of value, with falling property rates, with alarming BMI profiles, with the epidemics, with criminal statistics, with the addictions, with the Great Removal, with the Trail of Tears, with the Middle Passage, with the Decades of Disappointment, with the Nakba, with the Ghost Dance, with the Cattle Killing. It begins with Cassandra’s discounted words, with Philomela’s silence, with Nongqawuse prophecies, with Rebecca Jackson’s spirit drawings, with the letters scrawled in the crawlspace. The plot of her undoing begins with the enclosure. She falls quickly into the list: his settled land, his property, his real estate, his plantation, his acres, his frontier, his fence, his family, his wife, his cattle, his brood mare, his slave, his wet nurse, his bitch, his world…

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