by Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene
(lightly after suheir hammad’s)
anxiety attacks me
jerking me awake
tears earthquake me,
unrecognizable protest mantra running out of my mouth.
during the days: sharp chest pains bang the inside of my bones
needles bungee jumping into my back
this pain makes no appointment.
wanting to rewind time
like a choose your own adventure novel
to create a new ending
that has my mother live
instead of die the day before my birthday
I open closet and smell her,
look up, see her wrappa
top shelf, to the right
wrappa rescued from the syracuse home she made for me
this country swallowed her
like an ocean does sandal
I watched from shoreline
ignored discarded too short fraying disintegrating.
the attention span of this nation
shorter than a micro tweet
expected to take place on commercial breaks
how am I?
pleasantries a given, candor unexpected.
socializing at parties & potlucks, folks want the cliffnotes version
of how I feel
how are you?
my mom died, I respond
their faces stricken as if they forget they knew
but they knew this
they ask like
suddenly sunshine will spill across my face and my last 2 months of
can’t rise from bed,
sleep kidnapping me from consciousness
then shoving me into a day full of
depression all day everyday
I am an emotional cook
bake raspberry cupcakes, coconut mango cupcakes
make mango pineapple bbq ribs,
baked beans from scratch,
pumpkin chocolate muffins
for the family 7800 miles away.
I give food away like the childless mother I am
first writing since
my mother’s death, an act of terror, reigning my days
solitude feels lonely. crowded
crowds feel crowded. lonely
too many people saying too little of all the wrong things
I am so fragile and sharp.
sharp around the edges like your favorite delicate thing
I unexpectedly cut anyone in the vicinity
even after all the dangerous bits have been swept away
I’ve stopped trying to hide it—I am just fuckin dangerous
my holster full of rage
I am disappointed in people
with such short emotional attention spans,
people more comfortable talking to me about my fashion sense than my heartache
people who want to talk about self care like it’s a cure-all happy pill when really
sometimes there is no pearl of wisdom sometimes depression is an abyss sometimes shit is shitty and that’s it
communal cheat-sheet responses:
oh sorry to hear, condolences, (quick hug), gotta go.
humanity on the go.
soon we’ll speak in monosyllables
no nuisance of complexes or complexities
how are you?