I've seen this man before he's always causing trouble everyone around this neighborhood causes trouble I hate that I have to pass through here on my way to work it's so gross it's like they don't even care about their own environment at least most of them don't act like they do it isn't fair that they're still allowed to stay here I'm going to call Jill and tell her about this because I know she'll understand. I just want the train to come already to get me away from him! Let me walk down to the other platform ugh people like him are always making me feel uncomfortable I thought the mayor would have cleared them all out by now I mean God what on earth was she elected for?! not getting my vote this year that's for sure oh! good, thank goodness the train is coming hope there aren't any more on the train.
Got to find a way to a doctuh, don't known how I'm gon' go but I got to go. Got that sugah. Don't 'member all these buildings here a few years ago, I really don't Lord. Got to eat. Cain't ask her for nothin, that heifer'll call the 5-0 so fast, maybe I'll ask this sista here, nah, she lookin away. Got to eat. Got to find somethin for my kids first they so hongry. Can't rip off no stores no more. Got to get to the doctuh. Sumn don't feel right. Got to get to the doctuh get that dialysis machine. Got tuh hop on ova to Frisco see if I can git some grub, put down somebody else address so they can help me at the pantry. The one here ain't get my family through the week. Oooh, boy I got to git to the doc!
and their music is always disrupting in the whole neighborhood and I can only call the police so many times they're not good for anything either I would move back to the city if the prices weren't just outrageous ugh here comes another one they always smell like smoke they don't have jobs he looks like he should be in school but they don't really go to school either I guess ugh good thing my stop isn't far I don't know how long I can smell him
“Sankofa. Sankofa! Don’t fight it, baby, don't fight it.”
I know that to try and wake the child is futile – he’s moved beyond my reach and may not be able to tell me apart, friend from foe. Still, I feel saddened to know the terror he must be feeling. I have felt it.
He’s in the place of Recalling now, and to come back he must also recall the horrors. I have learned that we cannot pick and choose only the comforting and familiar pieces of our lineage.
He’s a little young for Recalling visions, and I would have prepared him had I known he would arrive at them prematurely. But for now I can only watch him as he lies across my arms, completely motionless, looking dead if not for the struggling, wheezing breaths; the heart fluttering like hummingbird wings. Eyes rolling back wildly, revealing the shocking white and blood vessels.
I have felt his terror.
My visions started when I was eleven or twelve.
I would have these dreams that I couldn’t tell were dreams. (They weren’t). I couldn’t tell because I was awake and yet my body would not move. Light left the room and was replaced by an unspeakable darkness. Darkness I felt seeping into my pores.
In the surrounding blackness faint gray shadows would begin to appear over me, their contorted outlines covering me and shackling their tails around my ankles, my wrists, my neck. And I felt their voices, their hissing voices that made my skin prickle into a thousand bumps - I could feel them trying to crawl into the new abyss that was growing within me.
I gasped for breath, for a return to my body, but I had no sense of up or down – I searched for the earth beneath me but felt only the weight of falling, falling, violently rocking, into abyss.
You will never be free again, the voices would whisper. Never, never, never… their echoes reverberated in the hollow space. Terror consumed me in those times, tangled with a hopeless desire to continue to fight, to breathe beneath this weight. I lost all sense of time in this cave, tormented by the whispers, the groans, the slow rocking.
I could see nothing but the gray specters in that place. No light and I forgot the look of my own face, and the sound of my own screaming was drowned out by this hissing, You will never be free.
I told my mind to move my body, but every time I tried to move the weight pressed on. The air smelled of blood and feces and sea salt; of zinc and despair. The voices continued their torment. I do not know how long they went on. I had no sense of time.
Only after an eternity of captivity and with the morning light did the shadows release their chains and the breath return to my lungs.
For a long time, night after night, there was nothing but this terror.
When I spoke of my night captors during the day, responses were mixed. Mama told me that I was a conduit, a vessel for messages that we could not hear in the daylight.
Nana told me it was only a glimpse of the Hell that was waiting for me if I didn’t find Jesus (Mama didn’t church us).
My brother told me what I was seeing was the result of insomnia and nothing more. But I knew he was just afraid.
musings of a Black, queer and genderqueer activist, educator, musician.