|Photo by Cullan Smith
With current events weaving through your stomach like rotting barbed wire, all you can do is wonder. This unbearable cruelty is part of history from the beginning of time. You think the world has progressed but at the baseline, it has not. It is not medieval barbarity. It is instantaneous savagery with one quick death move. The killer was bred for this, was allowed this, did this, and the city burned. White slime slithered in from other places in unmarked cars with weapons and a plan in mind. Take advantage of black grief and anger. Stoke the flames of injustice for your own purpose. America is about to be leveled in one way or another as you sit complacently at your desk, in your yard brooding over the quarantine, in front of some distraction. Some have already dispensed with Covid regulations. It’s summer. Thou shalt not be prevented from having fun. The world turns without anyone noticing. Hearts melt, hearts harden, hearts wither away. Most pay little attention.
You look at your parents wedding picture. They look lovely. Your mother is a stylist. Perfect in white satin and lace. A pert smile. Makeup, hair done like a movie star. Dreams rattle in her head. She wants to be a fashion designer. Freedom from the family will not be had. Desires will not pan out. In the end, after your father died, her children alienated, her favorite niece thrown quickly in the grave from Sepsis, all was gone for her. She tumbled done the well at breakneck speed. You never understood her. She seemed remote and vicious. Now, as you look at her face in the wedding photo, you grieve for communication that was thin as dripping ice in November. You did not try after a certain point, intent at following your own star. Weddings never interested you. Meaning always did although in your own family none was had. Your father, similar emotionally, targeted you since no one else could see his dilemma. At his coffin you placed a Roseate Spoonbill feather, bright pink, for the photos you never sent him of your work in Louisiana. You did not want to leave him. Your mother’s death did not matter much but it ripped your heart like a buzz saw anyway. It was over. It was not done, though. She haunts you to this day.
You grew up in Newark during the race riots. It was a pivotal time of pain deep since you went to a diverse school. They were your friends. Your cohorts in growing up in a vicious city. The split from your family as a mere 10-year-old, was final. Their racist beliefs shattered your confidence. It split you in two. Dead presidents. Dead profits. Violence everywhere you looked. You tried to forget although some torments never go away. You seemed welded to violence, buried in darkness. Repeat occurrences. With one final push you broke free of the embedded chains that held you under water for a decade. It took too long to put things right. Here you are. Back at the beginning. Confidence shattered. The shining sun somewhat pointless. All you can do is find solitude. Make art, survive financially after losing everything, push on with the boldness to do the impossible and be grateful for life, the possibilities at your feet, the ability to feel for another as he cried for his mother. What can be done, you do not know? Be kind. Try to love even though you find you are lacking in that way. Move on in the moment to feel that despite the horror, the world turns and every day begins again.