Shrieking with flails and flops
My small fat fish dove towards my breast and
submerged, drinking with puffed cheeks, a chin slick with saliva, and muffled mumbles.
Comfortably captured, I listened to the sound of cars and felt the heavy lull of the midday sun until her sparkling eyes caught mine.
Then suddenly she flipped back with a wriggle into an ocean of sleep
until we feed again
Bright birds, calling into the night.
Voices rising above the din.
Over the dreary hum of sleepy machines.
Were it not for your waking warble
I would find myself lulled to sleep
nestled in a pocket of warmth
deep in a moment of time
before I must open my eyes,
and move with resignation at the appropriate pace
in measured steps
towards an unbearable cold.
You brought a candle,
I offered a match.
I dip my fingers into hot, melting wax.
The evidence of my mischief?
The dried remains of a once burning light
wax drips on coats
Glove fingers and cotton pants.
Oh right, my fingers were cold.
The cold got into my bones.
So deep the burning began.
Into the marrow.
Froze my blood.
Blistered my brain.
What is hot wax but a possibility to feel?
I remember cloth shoes on little sockless feet.
So numb from the fall rain.
When Papa and I finally got to the YMCA.
Alone in the women’s change room I gingerly took of my cloth shoes.
Purchased well before I knew what keds were.
I still have never held a pair.
I remember the feeling of hot water waking my childish feet from the cold.
Hot water delicious and unending
Childhood memories come back to me.
Dust covered Sailor Moon Cards.
The frenzy that is your heart.
Humidity and wet slow a flurry of movement. Finding your soft warm skin tucked under your soaked snow jacket.
Your wet jeans.
Your slightly shrunk white and red plaid button down.
Your poorly choosen sneakers.
Your hands went numb well before your shoes soaked through.
Your eyes were wild, but you will get there and not lose any limbs.
It was like the snow, the blanket that was the snow. The whiteness of a solid sky and the complete lack of sound was trying to drown you were you paused.
So you are left with the frenzy in your heart, driving you forward as you ache for a destination beyond a home that feels like a pitstop.
Home home home a promise encased by so much snow
I don’t think people know the many and strange entangled reasons a young woman would get into the car to be whisked off into danger by a white man twice her age.
To talk to them on the internet.
There are things far more dangerous than any one man, life for one.
But then you look over and realize you might be left alone with him, and question if you are walking away from death or towards it.
Also, what about those of us without escape? Where home is a safe slow stumble and life is a basket of blanket stares, longing and fear?
We have parking lots. Not cottages. We had gravel and tim horton’s at 2 am.
We sat in our parents car for as long as possible just to be alone.
We took baths. We took showers. We slept.
We hid in our minds.
Secrets became refuge.
Always watched, but so unheard. A thousand bruises went unnoticed as your parents locked the door, closed the blinds, and turned off the light to keep you safe.
Then you become an adult, and anywhere could be a possibility, but you that cage of your youth feels like a tomb drawing in.
As she bathed in both warm water and her exhaustion, barely bringing herself to soap her brown body with the slippery soap. She would remember the scrunched faces of disapproving Aunties, almost hearing a chorus of polished West Indian accents scolding her for neglecting to use a washcloth.
Well now she was alone and exhausted half dreaming as she slipped the soap under a large breast bobbing in the warm water.
Pot made everything slow down and feel like before the Christmas party when she was a kid. Everything felt bigger than her then, unreachable, possible but in the future. Then you just experienced and wished you were older.
Now her hands were tangled in a life that began messy as that matted mop she pulled hair out of alone in the temple.
How had she gotten there, and what brought her to this place?
She went from having a baby no one thought she deserved after leaving a man that made her sleep on the floor for snoring and picked her cloths (with no apparent sense of fashion beyond preventing her from embarrassing him with her bright colours) to well not pretending. Or really knowing anything for sure.
So much time had passed since the first time she did this, and stopped gritting her teeth and brushing her hair in favour of finding some freedom.
She remembered in grade 6 she started straightening her hair and tried being normal. She tried solidly for almost a full school year.
In the mirror at home she would practice what to say to Tamara and Katie. They knew how to be almost girls well, Kita didn’t. A weirdo, over protected advisor to late 30s addicts, lover of disco, queer with a solid love of the pornographic at 12… But nothing that made sense for solidly middle class suburn tweens in the 90s.
Looking back it was fairly obvious that she was a writer… Throughout it all she was constantly in dialogue with herself, composing impressions of things. Running through possibilities and memories like scenes she needed to perfect.
“your thighs are the perfect density,” I mumbled trying to valiantly (in my mind) capture the wonder of her legs.
White and aglow. Really smooth, almost too smooth. Like alabaster, but living and soft to the touch.
For some reason her skin never made me feel insecure, nor brought a storm of comparisons to rain down on my mind. Clouding out the simply joys of first getting to know a lovers body.
With her it was just touching, naming, seeing.
My skin brown just as normal as her white skin.
I mean, it wasn’t perfect. She was tall, white and thin, but as far as pretty good gets. Well, I was thankful.
I felt like a person around her, and when she would laugh – my stomach would swell up with a feeling that pressed up against my heart.
Butterflies? Humming birds, maybe? Who knows, bats even. My feelings soared, so whatever was flapping against my belly it sure made me take notice.
The flapping stirred my heart just enough that when I looked at her face I had to blink extra hard and I felt myself licking my lips.
I couldn’t let myself look away.
The funny part is I am not in my twenties even, but around her I felt 16 and just completely enthralled with getting to know someone.
brutality on black bodies
Even a blue dust bathed bra soaked in the sweat of my sun soaked skin bites.
Bites into tender sides
Pinches soft parts
A wire to my lung
A sternum on fire with irritation
I am bound.
Stuck in the illusion of safety – when the very things that cling to my sides could kill me at any moment
I must hide my breath and hold my heart…
A bright bird wings beating
Bashed in, time and time again
As the ways of the world claw into me.
Crack my rip cage open between the sobs that rack me
And grab grab grab my frightened bird
Always trying to dash her in the dirt.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to let her fly away.
I wish I too could join her.
Away from hands that pick
Bindings that poke
And the terror to breathe full breaths as I fly so free.