August 1, 2016

This is How it Starts. {Poem}


(for white allies,
for remembrance)

This is how it starts.
It starts with me sitting with you
as you burn up in the
re-telling of what we have all now seen,
what every American has now seen,
what the whole world has seen.
The world now knows that this is us,
this is America: armed, dangerous.

It starts with me sitting with you
in all your rage and disgust
the dismembering sadness
lodged in you because it is your heritage
because your ancestors had to wade in it daily,
and also to deny it
had to bury it
and had to survive it,
which they did, so spectacularly.
And you now have to wade around in it daily,
because the time is now,
there’s been a quickening,
and everyone with a device on this entire blue earth has seen it.

The systematic, ongoing abuse and murder and silencing
of your people,
your beautiful black people,
is crawling through your heart today,
and it is not done;
the forces that thrust your forefathers and foremothers
into the dark holds of ships
are the same forces that
thrust you into a cell.

(Because, incidentally, your destination was a proxy war, which says it all.)
Most men have wars they are willing to fight, and Angola. Was. Not. Yours.
You were in line to board that plane, armed, and you would walk before being sent by Fidel to kill your black brothers. Risking getting locked up was a risk more palatable than murdering your people.
And that risk was the risk that began your
years behind bars.
Just one of the risks of being born black.

And those forces, all those forces,
are the same
that still thrust your daily life upon you,
with its litany of limits.

And we both live with the knowing
that those same forces
could thrust you back inside,
or thrust your sons into cells.

Our sons.

Though they may be just light enough
that they could
and this is a despicable truth,
a comfort which disgusts me.

This rage and disgust
burns me up, too.

As we sit and
you re-tell what has happened,
your rage is against whiteness,
that is very clear.

We are comfortable on the couch
as we discuss it,
in our home.
But you do not mince words,
and I am twisted inside,
because you are enraged,
and I cannot lean against anything,
there is a hollow underneath me,
and my ancestors that came before,
how can I lean on you, in this?

And I want to speak,
because I want to distance myself,
wanting not to have been part of this,
wanting you not to see me as part of this,
afraid you could stop being able to love me in my whiteness,
and wanting to say, no, not all of us, not me.

Identity is scrambling.
I just watch it.

I remain still. It is
a silent ache, a squirming discomfort,
that I know the feel of;
Many old edges have been burned away this way.

It is the burning of seed within me,
a seed of other-ing, and shame.
It passes.

And I am right back with you, back in the grief,
holding us.
We both wear black right now.
And the me who is beyond me, who does not other-ize,
who loves you, and us, and me, and our sons,
and all of our people, every one
on this blue earth,
stays quiet to let you finish,
and does not say “yes, but.”
Or even, “what then should be done?”
Because this is a part of what should be done.

I just let you finish.

This needs to be done.
This burning discomfort and releasing of all of that which has been the
forgetfulness of whiteness
This is the burning of the seed of forgetfulness, planted
kalpas ago.

This is how it starts.


Author: Kelly Blaser

Image: Author’s Own

Apprentice Editor: Bretton Keating; Editor: Emily Bartran

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