In Times Like These

Title: In Times Like These

in times like these
I am expected to be captain kirk
giving orders to my bridge crew of white friends on instagram
hailing me with dm’s of, “what can I do?”

and I try to be the teacher they want me to be
but lately all I can do
is think really hard
about things I don’t normally give thought to
like
skincare
and milk substitutes
and 3:30pm
and lots of plants.

in my shower—
my face wash is in a yellow bottle
you flip open the cap and squeeze the white cream onto your palm
close your eyes and tilt to your head back to let the water dance on your face
then rub gently into your skin
cleanse clogged pores, soothe imperfections only you notice,
and silently wish you could do the same to your country
wash away the hate of america with the suds of your open palm
smile as fear slides its way down the drain
pray that nothing clogs it
like tar clogs my lungs when there is another hashtag.

when drinking oat milk—
that was $3 more than it should’ve been
that makes coffee taste better and tummies hurt less than cows
and that I also, quietly, hope will help me lose weight
but as I watch my worth be measured in mirrors
I wonder if my waistband is an act of resistance
to live above a bmi meant for people of a different race than me,
meant to shame and hurt and oppress the people of any race than white,
is to have revolution live in my tongue and in my hips
if I continue to pick and poke and watch them shrink
is that another Black death I will mourn in private?

in the afternoon—
I get in a fight with my brother
and tell him I don’t want to see him anymore

because I’m scared of what will happen if he leaves the house.
there are lots of little things I think about
in times like these
and I want you to think about
their names, their lives,
how we use ours to honor and fight for theirs
but I also want you to think about
plants
flowers, trees,
in your front yard garden,
outside of home depot,
in loving memory,
laid down at gravesites and protests
planted and watered and loved
by hands
of all colors
hands
that resisted death
but not arrest.

too many people couldn’t breathe,
and the plants that grow
from their return to the earth
make it easier
for us all
to breathe

-jordan marie finley

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