I felt it closing.

One.

I run to the things that are familiar, particularly when the gears of my emotional life come to a halt.

And the pain is deep and searing.

In this case it is words and fragmented images that haunt me.

I still see the slumped body of Renisha McBride as she lay lifeless, in blood, dead from a gunshot wound to the head, on that man’s small porch.

I can hear the bullets that went into the car of the Black teenagers whose music was playing too loud and the man decided to kill them in a fit of rage.

I see the stumbling body of Johnathan, disoriented from a car accident and then bullets end his confusion.

I see Trayvon fighting that other man and then it ends with another bullet.

I see Oscar killed on the subway platform, whispering the last words about his daughter.

I hear Eric saying that he can not breathe, he can not breathe.

And I see faces and bodies of transwomen of color fighting for their dignity and then quiet, killed, dead.

I see the faces of whiteness that clap and stand after Aretha sings Natural woman at the Kennedy honors for Carole King.

They love us when we sing to them, entertain them, but hate us when we need help, are confused, or because they believe that our deaths are justified. That are running away is not from fear but an invitation to be shot in the back.

I see the black man running away and then a police officer shoots him in the back. He falls.

I hear the cascade of bullets from the man who entered a bible church group and kills 14 black men and women in the church.

 

Two.

I write from a place of twistedness, wanting to be heard and read and understood, but there is something else that I need from this act.  I need the sanity, the calm that comes with taking this from in here and placing it out there.

 

Three.

of course, I have hope, but I am not always hopeful.  There is a difference.

I used to know what I wanted from Whites, courteousness, respect, listening, empathy, things like that.

But now, I welcome their silence, not the silence of indifference but the silence of respect like the silence of my respect that I give or share with my Native American brothers and sisters.  The silent respect I give to my sisters when they tell me about their rape.  A silence that witnesses, holds, protects, that acknowledges the human right for dignity and respect particularly when I know they have faced the unspeakable.

 

Four.

like following the smoke trails of incense it floats up and twists and then fades away.

it was something.  it, the smoke, came from something and did exist.

yes, this is what writing is like, a twisted line of curving smoke moving upward from incense.

 

One.

The sadness fell into my heart like the first snowflakes of winter.

It had tiny parts, crystals that were glorious and hurt, but when they landed, millions of them came,

blanketing the terrain of my happiness.

 

If stars could become letters and these letters could become words

they would spell Tamir Rice.

The sky of calming night that envelopes the earth and I see him falling down, quickly.

and nothing holds him up, the bullets down him.

through the grainy video I watch my heart sink.

 

Two.

And I know that his death lives in this cold chamber along with the other names of African Americans

who are like me and not like me, for I am alive and they died in the cruelest way

unarmed

mistaken

not trusted

maligned

hated

despised

it is as if someone or something cursed us.

 

Three.

It is my heart

and I felt it closing.

 

Four.

There are many things that I used to understand, or thought I did

and somehow through my grief, sadness, and mourning this understanding becomes twisted, made new.

I must rearrange the foundational elements that contour my emotions, all of them are tainted.

like watching a sunset turn into night.

at first the light peeks in, then becomes, and then reclaims, and then becomes one with darkness.

 

The end.

to face the eyes of the uncaring, to know that there are souls, not just people, who are indifferent toward black life.

to be killed by indifference.

surely that must be one of the saddest ways to die.

 

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