Sunday, December 29, 2013

In Solidarity, a grief justified

[Note: Video of me performing this poem can be found at the bottom of this post.]

A woman was lying fetal in the dairy aisle.
No one stopped or even acknowledged her—so,
I stopped and asked her,
“Ma’am, is there anything I, anything I, anything I can do for you?”

She just laid there in silent prayer.
I looked around. No one seemed to care.
So I stood over her and prayed with her.

I hovered my hands above her head,
Just as I’d seen my mother do in church.
I prayed for her heart to be filled
with joy and love and peace and understanding.
And for nothing to hurt.

I didn’t care what passersby thought
Of this sight, for I was merely doing
What I thought was right.

“Who is this kid praying for this lady?” 
they might’ve thought.
“Who does he think he is?” 
they might’ve thought.
“I’ll just fill my cart with food I’m going to throw out and never use,”
they might’ve thought.
“I’ll just continue clogging my arteries with filth and greed,”
they might’ve thought.
“I’ll just push my credit card to the max,” 
they might’ve thought.
“I’ll just keep walking and not find out,” 
they might’ve thought.

They might’ve thought.
But they didn’t.

I did.

I stood there protesting in the name of solar flares and nightmares.
I stood there, hands out in acceptance of what I’ll never be
—yet, for one moment, might produce a wonderment so bright
it brings about the coming of a new day
That today we shall stand in solidarity for our fallen,
For our weak—who have no place to stay.

I stood in silence—
repeating in my head the same words my mother used to repeat to me,
“It’s okay, son, it’s okay to be afraid—
the Lord is with you and with everyone today.”
I wanted this woman to be free of what ailed her.
I wanted her balance to be restored with the cosmos
—with her god
—with her mother
—with her bastard father

I repeated a prayer that was forever disconnected and imperfect,
For I do not know what ails her—
She of African skin, a pigment not that of my own,
She of the diaspora—me, ‘Merikuhn-grown.
She of dread-locked hair and pillowed-breasts
She of the universe and me, the rest.

All of these feelings, indifferences, feelings, indifferences
Let me try thinking for myself, instead—
And for she, of whom I pray
She, of whom I pray today,
She, of whom—

Suddenly exclaimed, “My son is dead!
No one told me grief felt so like fear!
He wanted 100, but only saw 14 years

I’m in the dairy aisle and my water just broke!
The water of my forefathers and slave-mothers,
whose amputation is the death-rattle of love.”

She brandished a blade above her head,
“I must return to him in Heaven—where
I know he is waiting for me!”

“Calm down,” I said, “ma’am, calm down!
Is there anything I, anything I, anything I can do for you?”
In broken prayer, she stood tall—now my equal in gravity—
And I thought I knew pain until I looked into her eyes,
Yet, I may never understand for I have never lost a child,

And my only connections
with death
are the two times
I’ve attempted
to end my own life.

Seeing this woman’s agony—
I would never want my mother to know that distress.

Yet, if a mother does not mourn for what she has lost
but for the opportunity her child has lost,
it is comforting to know the child
has not lost the end for which it was created.

And there is comfort to believe that she—herself,
in losing her only biological happiness,
has not lost anything greater,
that she may still hope to attain peace with her mother Venus.

In this lifetime, I am able to justify the grief sustained in death,
Especially since my only connections
with death
are the two times
I’ve attempted
to end my own life.

And those are not moments I wish to relive—
for the fear that drove me there was created
by the words of those who do not know
how much words affect those who do not know
that the words being used by those who do not know
what the words mean can affect those who receive the words.
Sticks and stones, sticks and stones,
Words and bones, words and bones

Her son will never know the feeling of being forgotten
He will never have to feel the sting of racial slurs
and cradle-robbing pedophilia.

However, he will forever live on through his mother,
So broken-hearted, she collapsed in a dairy aisle.
The same aisle she was in when she received the call
One year earlier, telling her of her son’s test results.
And that the cancer had spread, and that they must act fast.

She returned to the aisle in hopes of feeling his soft skin once again.
She returned to the aisle in hopes of returning to the day he was born.
She returned to the aisle in hopes of never feeling alone again.

I took the blade from her hand, she fell into my arms.
And we wept.

Never believe you are alone in this world,
There is always someone willing to pray.
There is always something more to say.
There is always something more.
There is always something more.
There is always something more.
There is always something.