By blache marie
this bloodiest summer
i am exhausted. i find myself in a cycle of grief and anger. our dead appear again and again, haunting us on screens and streets and our bodies. maybe they haunt us to remind us, we are not safe. we are not safe and they’re still killing us. we lose breath and hope and continue laboring, using our bodies for money, for surviving, for others. there isn’t time to pause, even as every breath wants to escape as screams. and sometimes we scream until our voices vanish. we empty ourselves over and over as were killed again and again.
can we wish to be held by the warmth of summer when there are so many of us dead? as the lists of names continue to grow and a hole that is loss deepens and the burning that is rage consumes. can we be connected to loss to become whole, to become more than we are?
i keep asking myself. why am i beneath sheets and not in the streets? where’s my rage? where’s my battle cry? why do i end up drowning in grief to be swept away into my mind and darkness?
as i learned of the murder of korryn gaines, i immediately needed to be outside, to feel small, to feel night air, to remember “the universe is black enough to love us right.”† my heart burned and bled and melted and broke. my body begged for release. my stomach turned.
the more i work on myself, the more deeply i grieve, the more i know what is possible. my grief shrieks and howls because i have survived and will survive worse.
as i grieve my nails become claws and biting words leave my mouth. this same mouth that slits throats and cuts at egos, gently sucks and whispers and can hold sorrow in kisses. the same hands with claws can coax pain from muscles. with my grief, i transform. small is not what i am. crazy is too small to hold me, to name me.
my pull extends past my body, pulling at other bodies to bring us in closer, to hold each other. “our diasporic connections are really all we got.”†† in sw atlanta i find myself across the street from a grocery store on a corner, an abandoned corner that ants and plants have reclaimed. on this corner we reclaimed too.
together queer black femmes and black women decided we would build altars to grieve our dead. all over this country. we would build to grieve.
on this corner in atlanta, i was held and cleansed in a smoke bath surrounded by singing and drumming. i was taken through a yoruba eight bowl ceremony. i’m crying now as i remember the bright cloth and baskets of fruit and so many candles and so many names and so many black women and femmes comforting each other.
on that corner i was asked by the mother of alexia christian, who was shot 10 times by atlanta pigs in the back seat of a squad car in 2015, to fill a canvas for her daughter. sadness and weight poured from my body and my breath grew heavy as i filled that canvas with alexia’s face and vibrant red hair.
on that corner i gave to keep going. i will keep keeping. black femmes, queer black femmes after me need me as i need them. we must continue.
we need to grieve. and for those who are angered or get silent at the sight of others’ tears, it is wasted energy to pretend you don’t need to grieve too. we have scars. you have scars. we have scars on our skin. you have scars on your skin. in our hearts. in your heart. in our minds. in your mind. in our bodies. in your body. we have wounds. we continue to be wounded. you are part of this we. and we need to grieve.
grieve so we can keep breathing. grieve however you know how – but make space for your grief.
grieve because we tryna breathe. we tryna live.
we can use grief as a tool to teach us about ourselves, what we’re capable of.
with tools we can forge weapons. what is the potency of weapons made from tears,
made from sweet whispers to comfort ourselves through grief?
imagine the destructive and renewing force of weapons transformed from grief.
with love and darkness
† zoë flowers formerly of black witch chronicles, creator of soulrequirements.org
†† jillian carter ford assistant professor of social justice at kennesaw state university