She slid into my DMs with an apology in her mouth. A friend of a friend from university, she had read a poem of mine and cried for the first time in years. I’m sorry this is happening. I responded like I always do. Thank you for reading and empathizing. ❤ , but I wondered if she really hadn’t cried for years and was envious. Envious of any possible existence where tears were not a weekly occurrence. Where a person wasn’t fluent in quiet sobs.
At the beginning of June, I deactivated my social media channels. To bolster my mental health. To give me time to grieve the world in private. To write a new country. To stop staring directly into the dumpster fire of chaos and negativity that is a million screaming, anguished souls broadcasting their pain. For those of us who are sensitive to the emotions of others, 2020 has felt like singeing the ends of our nerves one by one.
100,000 preventable deaths and counting. Burn.
400+ years of murder and dehumanization. Burn.
26 million people without employment or insurance. Burn.
Inevitable rising bankruptcy and suicide rates. Burn.
Multiple Human Rights violations. Burn.
The continued ignoring of climate change. Burn.
On and on and on like a fire in a house full of dry rot smolders even among the rubble. Not to mention our own individual hurts and pains, it’s been a rough year for those of us who love everybody in existence. When you want the best for everyone, the catastrophes hit harder. Sting deeper.
Makes me want to crawl under the covers with tea to wait our the end of the world, but I can’t because I’m a home. A home that houses multitudes: other people’s secret pains, public breakdowns, quiet sighs, loud guilt. There is a difference though — a difference between building a home out of a human and having a human to share a home with. You cannot fill an empty soul with kisses. Or tears. Like putting out a fire with wood, it will only want more.
These people in my messages want me to bandage their guilt, pour salve on their shame, and I have no more emotional burn kits. I want to tell them that regrets and anguish have never piled up this intensely or this quickly in my own corner before, and I’ve found myself exhaling into other people among the ruins. Are we friends? Are we family? No, we’re not even acquaintances, and you are asking me to absolve you. I cannot offer you the thing you are craving. The cheap love that smells like even cheaper forgiveness so you feel better because of a black woman’s comfort.
You forget that love is a violent thing, and hearts are inherently bloody. A person is skin and dust, bones and veins, easily killed. Love is not clean or sweet. A terrifying melding of hearts, minds, souls in an effort to create a better world. We underestimate the destructive nature that forces us out of childhood, makes men fight wars, and crucified a god.
Late at night, my body vibrates with the restless promise of all the lives I have ever lived belonging to all the souls residing under my skin. I often find myself wanting to spend eternity asking people where their scars are from, why they laugh a certain way, why they don’t like sugar in their coffee. All I need is someone to understand that. I will keep asking and asking until I am in a new city, under a new sky, walking down new streets.
The children of slaves and addicts have sagas to tell if you would only listen, but why would you? I know firsthand there’s no sacred space inherently for the desperate and wholly broken. Whenever I find one, I hold it loosely so it doesn’t hurt when they inevitably fritter away through my fingers. To the people who talk with me, I’m an exploding supernova. As brilliantly as they think I shine, I just as quickly fade into black.
I am one of those easily-forgettable people you reach out to in university, when you’re depressed, if you realize you’re racist, if you want to seem more cultured, when you’re bored during quarantine. I know afterwards, I will be reduced to a footnote in the stories of so many, if that. So important at the time, so special, so influential, so treasured, yet years later, just a vague memory of a bright star.
I want to line up all the messages people have sent me from horrible places in a large field. All the empty apologies, the horribly-written-fetishistic-erotica. (Come on man. You gotta bring your A1 game to my writer’s soul) The false promises of friendship. The racist profanity-laden insults. The wishes for me to wipe away their tears and tell them their complicity is okay. I want to pile them up and light a bonfire with them.
Wounded men and women have always found me. They may have found you too, but know this. Don’t shrink yourself to squeeze into the corner of their standards of comfort. Our hearts are too large, our spirit too grand to fit in someone’s pocket. I’ll boil a gnarly witch’s brew. Of bro tears. Of “You’re beautiful for a black girl.” Of clumsy words when you were high on lust. Of false apologies with no action behind it. The first white woman I comforted in life saw what I could become and tried to inflict her wounds on me.
Stop asking me to heal you from the knives you keep picking back up blade first. Stop twisting the sword deeper in my back. Try to heal yourself, goddammit. You are caught between lovable and murderous, and I can’t keep burning myself trying to keep you warm. I have my own wounds to lick, my own hurts to bandage. We all do.
I’ll burn it all to dust and leave to feel the sun soak through my skin.