I had a migraine the day after a woman
was killed while confronting Nazi
flags in Charlottesville. I anticipated this;
it happened after Dylan Roof too.
It seems, I try to tell my body
the news and it just can’t cope
with what humans do to humans
over and over
for meager prices.
That day, my niece’s voice over the phone
was overjoyed through the chaos–
she was going to have a daughter.
I smiled for her, but all I could think
about was how we were going
to explain the world,
how it works
to the future and their too wide eyes.
But I’ve worked in the children’s
department of libraries. Called
as a mother (firm, yet gentle)
behind a mixed group of children
playing hide and seek between
the juvenile shelves. Quickly, I remember
how two girls–
one black, one cornstarch blonde–
ran their fingers
in each other’s hair, fascinated
by the textures, silently finding
the differences very funny,
but still, wonderful. When I think of how they
traded picture books and held hands until
reluctant to separate
and go home, I stopped wondering
whether reality will break my niece’s heart.
I apologized to the unborn, as I watched
it all gradually, then shut off the news
and myself for the weekend.
I read and cooked and even laughed,
but it was all puppet strings.
Everything was still exhausted
the who what when and where,
but the temples throbbed;
the body wasn’t ready to cross the line
where I could even ask the “why?”
(It asked at night, finally.
But I could only grasp at “I don’t know.
I wish I can explain some tempers,
but I grew up like the library children.”).
Later that night, I tried to write
But all I could think about was how
my parents grew up watching
Martin Luther King have a dream
then die of it; Freedom Riders
beaten by the Klan before a bus
turned black and red; thousands
bruised the day before, but marching
again to brighten the landscape;
Emmitt Till’s open casket to scare the world
straight with mutilations–
and also, their disappointment, watching us
learn nothing, absolutely nothing.
Shooting pain again and it’s getting worse,
even with the strongest painkiller.
It still doesn’t get it either and my answers