There is a long silence between you and your best friend. You don’t speak, you two don’t reach out.
But, you know you are both watching
“Wow,” is the word you find. He asks if you’re okay. We both agree we’re kind of fucked up. We say our sorries. We agree to get coffee. So you get dressed.
There is another silence. We hug. Solange is playing--
“I’m gonna look for my body yeah
I’ll be back real soon
But you know that a king is only a man
With flesh and bones, he bleeds just like you do
He said, “where does that leave you”
And do you belong? I do, I do”
--but do I? Do you?
You/I transports you to pages in a book.
“Sometimes “I” is supposed to hold what is not there until it is. Then what is comes apart the closer you are to it.
This makes the first person a symbol for something.
The pronoun barely holding the person together,” says Rankine.
“You said “I” has so much power; it’s insane.
…you should be sacred, the first person can’t pull you together.
…but did you try?
Tried rhyme, tried truth, tried epistolary untruth, tried and tried.
You really did. Everyone understood you to be suffering and still everyone thought you thought you were the sun—never mind our unlikeness, you too have heard the noise in your voice.”
Yes, I tried. I am thinking about how my self has been a long project. Self-care, self-aware. Self-reflect. Always returning to myself. As if I myself am the final destination.
You think you can cultivate a better self, build a better home for yourself. You think you can cradle yourself inside you.
And your mind slides into a rhythm. You hear her words.
“I tried to change, closed my mouth more, tried to be soft,
Faster for sixty days, wore white, abstained from mirrors… Slowly did not speak another word…. I swallowed a sword…. But still inside me coiled deep was the need to know”
There is a deep need, a deep yearning to know. Maybe knowing will help with the pain. You think you can read yourself out of this, you think you can talk yourself out of this. You make coffee. You sit in silence.
And I’m thinking. I hear Solange again.
“I tried to drink It away….
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair.
…I tired to work it away.
But that just made me even sadder.”
Sad, is that what I am feeling? Is that where I am right now?
“I tried to keep myself busy / I ran around in circles / Think I made myself dizzy / I slept it away / I sexed it away / I read it away….
I tried to run it away… thought moving around make me feel better…
Thought if I was alone then maybe I could recover / to write it away or cry it away.”
Words are mixing together. You’re—I’m back to thinking about myself. This language that I use, the language that the plane landed on, I read every word, I taught myself every word
Your dad says knowledge is built on top of each other, your dad tells you you’ve always been building on your knowledge. The words I chased, the words I looked up.
I’m thinking about how much pain English caused me. Yet, I’m trapped in this language because it’s all I know now. But I know so little of it.
I know I stole these words from what I read. So, when I think of I, I think of you, I am thinking of what I read. I am thinking of what I heard.
So this “you” you heard takes you somewhere other than where your feet stand. This you,
“You think you’re a gold mine.
You’ve been excavated time after time”
You think you’re a project, I think if I do me better, I can get by.
I make myself bend to their ways. I run, I grind, I swallow my pride.
“What did he just say? Did she really just say that? Did I hear what I think I heard? Did that just come out of my mouth, his mouth, your mouth?”
The question comes back to me/you. Shit happens outside your body, beyond your skin but the question return to you.
“Right here, right now.” That’s what my yoga instructor screeches. With her blonde hair in a ponytail. “You’re here right now, so be present on the mat. Be present with your breath.”
So, you breathe. That’s all she asks of you. Be present, be here. But, here isn’t where you belong. You don’t belong here. I don’t belong here.
“You put your body here in proximity to, adjacent to, alongside, within.
You don’t speak unless you are spoken to and your body speaks to the space you fill and you keep trying to fill it except the space belongs to the body of the man next to you, not you.”
But, you did the work. I did the work. I worked on myself. You thought you made a community for yourself.
Love trumps hate. But, it doesn’t. It didn’t.
You think, I thought if you made yourself better, if I loved hard enough, if you loved hard enough, the love will radiate out of you. You like the sun, you.
“You are you even before you / grow into understanding you /are not anyone, worthless, / not worth you.
Even as your own weight insists
you are here, fighting off
the weight of nonexistence…
And still a world begins its furious erasure--
Who do you think you are, saying I to me?
And who is this you?
And who is invisible enough to see you?
The don’t know I’m broken. They don’t know I’m crying. They’re not they’re not loving hard enough.
They don’t see you. You who are done.
I am done. I think I’m done.
I can’t sit with this world
So, I’m gonna find a home within myself now.
I won’t be back for a while.