after John Murillo they tell me to set up an auto-reply, that i have a computer to respond to messages of children’s chalky exhaustion, after another one of our bodies lies on pavement. cold and not so sudden. here i am, thinking of this and that. they tell me, i tell me, i should be grateful as my lover sits by the window, painting the meadow-mountain below. i watch as he layers the oil, then scrapes it away. and, each day throughout this week, throughout this vacation, he builds and scrapes, placing the palette knife on burlap, shedding its fibers, weakening its resolve. i pull the blanket higher. my resolve is to hide. until i am closed. until i am close. in high resolution i hear another one’s mother’s cry. this one’s mother’s cry. she harnesses the wind, holding in howl, holds in his body. it trembles earth where i refuse to shed skin. it around my ankles. death does not stop the mothers cry– outside this silent breath their deaths do not paralyze. i hear a sermon in the distance: this, too, shall pass– it sounds like he is asking. i look to my lover, who looks out at the green, at these mountains suddenly quivering, at our summer refuge, and i write. red ink pulping pages, shedding their resolve, scraping at teeth.
Coolbaugh Township, PA
the same images cascade in their transposition imposition (im)precision— the u-haul pick up the plastered street bordered by gravel and changing trees but these trees were (not) there or, i mean, those leaves are (not) here or, when he ran in white (not) just running. i wonder who here, in this mountain town, monitors brazenly freely serving peace and justice, who is self-appointed security looking for irregularity, identifying it in joggers breathers candy-eaters— oh these shades of trees, shades under trees, the crying breeze, the black body running is not unconventional, or i mean ahistorical it belongs to legacy but the leaves are different, here, they are yellow and burnt, here, they have fringe they are not verdant in their burdening, bludgeoning, bursts of nascent green for the man’s descent his fall. but it wasn’t a fall. it is fall, here, i hear someone sweep the porch again of the fringe, empty the fringe but, then, it was the edge of summer, and he was shot, his fall fated, his fall a syndication, of black bodies falling, or knelt on, throats quieted, simply these are watched and seen and rendered (in)visible. how could they (not) be stolen. compressed. Here, the trees whistle the same. Here, the wind opens weeping — image::running image::sleeping image::buying cigarettes image::selling cigarettes image::walking home falls through, twenty-seven years old. i am so young, carrying his their her, my our names. my back is soft and crooked, like this oak tree, my coccyx sore from balancing and spinning, calves at ninety degree angles, i a dancer, i an entertainer for whom? of Lester Horton mandating my body(’s) tension, compression, tightening of my spine not unlike watching Topsy’s with their ringed red wrists dangling acute death-acrobatic angles bends and snarled lips they don’t scare me i can’t help but doubt their intent to kill another Black girl, exactly like them? to take her innocence this rendition a twisted white imagination— take these— lips faltering in fall i’m at an exhaustive brink. i ask o mother, why am i so thirsty for their stunted water? i pull green shards, gleaming in new light, from the hushed black corridors of my throat, my mouth flushed in rose. the leaves are rotted. how finicky fall and finite the roof, sodden with the weight of the middle. i cry night, with eyes beckoning to close. i cry moon. i cry low swing low sweet sweet— my, my
For more from the Fall 2022 special issue of MQR, “Fractured Union: American Democracy on the Brink,” you can purchase the issue here.