To the daughter of Diamond Reynolds, girlfriend of Philando Castille:
I do not know the sound that innocence makes
when it is shattered.
I don’t know if bodies dipped in earthen tones
can even be seen as innocent.
But I am so, so deeply sorry
that this town is not safer.
I know that the ancestors have gifted you
with an unspeakable strength and calmness,
but still it stings the corners of my eyes -
the smoking gunshots singe my nostrils
and an age-old white hot rage threatens to awaken
but I choke it down like refused vomit
so as not to be seen
They will ask you to contain it, honey child
you have already known how,
that crying can get you killed,
that moving can get you killed,
that breathing can get you killed –
You have already seen the crosshairs trained on innocence.
But maybe innocence cannot be shattered
when our children – have never been children.
I wish this town was safer.
Yes, that was me - I was the one at 4 years old who tip-toed along the perimeter of a dark room at my own birthday party, fearing the center of attention, hot-faced and sweaty at all the smiling eyes on me. Yes, that is me - struggling to pull myself out the house to reconnect with people who I love dearly but who probably don’t know it because I am caved into myself so much of the time. Yes, I was the one who hid behind my mama’s leg at the sign of a new stranger who tried to speak to me. Yes, I am the one who enjoys studying people more than I do talking to them. I listen for the influx of emotion in their voices and the way their eyes crinkle in delight or disdain.
Yes, that is me, who cannot always decipher between solitude, or isolation; who cannot tell if depression cycles are due to the absence of people or to the absence of me-ness that comes from pleasing them. Yes, that is me with adult cousins in they 40’s who can’t step foot outside the house into the big scary world, or tell apart the voices in they heads. Yes, that is me who still, unconsciously, tip-toes along the sides of the room or walks as far away from the crowd as I possibly can get at the event I didn’t want to commit to in the first place. Yes, that is me - the one cantankerous at unannounced company disrupting the waves of quiet and stillness, and with they street clothes still on no less.
Who really knows what I am doing in here? Who really can tell us apart? Who really knows how far down I extend to, or the meditations of my heart? What is, “joyous solitude?” Who really understands. The effort that it takes. And what is joyous solitude?
Yes, I am the one. The one. And only. Solitary. Party of one.
Yes, that was me - I was the one at 7 years old who started bangin out stories on our centuries-old Macintosh in the scary dark basement. Yes, that is me who, from time to time, gets lost on perfect purpose on some backstreet that’s way slower than the freeway, just to stay in my own head a little while longer. (What is joyous solitude?) Yes, that was me - I was the child who rose up early on weekend mornings to bring my mama’s coffee and sit quietly in her bed next to her. Yes, that is me - I am the one who knows myself so damn well like the words to a favorite poem - what happens to a dream deferred? - that when I fuck up, I go to my own corner for a time out to lick my own wounds and return to you the sweetest being that there ever was.
Yes, that is me. I am the one. And I think I will take myself out. Explore a little while. Get lost in some shitty diner coffee and listen to the influx of raisin voices around me. Which I can decipher from my own.
musings of a Black, queer and genderqueer activist, educator, musician.