I love the way the black ants use their dead. They carry them off like warriors on their steel backs. They spend hours struggling, lifting, dragging (it is not grisly as it would be for us, to carry them back to be eaten), so that every part will be of service. I think of my husband at his father’s grave— the grass had closed over the headstone, and the name had disappeared. He took out his pocket knife and cut the grass away, he swept it with his handkerchief to make it clear. “Is this the way we’ll be forgotten?” And he bent down over the grave and wept.
No incantations, no rosemary and statice, no keening women in grim dresses. No cauldrons, no candles, no hickory wands. No honey and chocolate, no sticky buns. No peonies and carnations, no handkerchiefs. No dark and lusty liaisons.
Only you and me to see it out. Sweet self, let me wash your toes, brush your hair, let me rock you gently. Together we’ll change the sheets and I’ll pull you to me, little spoon. You be the marrow, I’ll be the bone.
Thinking with a heavy heart of the Black lives tragically lost to racial injustice not just this weekend and during this turbulent past year but throughout history. Today I share a breathtaking poem in every sense of the word by Khadijah Queen.
“I Have a Method of Letting Go”
Asthmatic child in a house full of smokers, I crawled once under toxic clouds to find my mother
I was so brave I almost died, or desperate
I wanted her more than breath I was so small & she could sing anything alive, almost
She didn’t really know, doesn’t know now—
She is familiar with duty & made me so I can’t live on that loss
In 1977 a bullet turned my brother into dust His 18 years here, an invisible talisman we hold in our callous living
Sometimes I think my mother smoked to pretend to breathe him in