Rachel Charlene Lewis, like they’re ready to exist within the world / aren’t prepared to see it

lucy and i leave home to sounds of little shouting. we step around little brown and black bodies, careful not to get in the way of their bullets: foam darts form a sparse layer of orange on the dead grass.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎lucy says, kids are such little weirdos. she is pleased with their childhood.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎i realize i’m going to have to tell her that our future kids can never play with guns and that i’m going to have to explain why.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎following her to the car, i wonder if instead i should tell our neighbor’s boys they are in danger. i don’t. i get into the car, seatbelt snug against my quickly beating chest, their giggles and the pop of foam through plastic mouths fading as we push away.

***

i wake to the sound of lucy chomping loudly on her second bowl of off-brand cheerios. i watch her from the counter: a half black, half white girl staring down her white girlfriend and wondering, always, what it means. i say, i was pregnant.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎what?
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎
i touch my chest. i was learning to breastfeed when i woke. we had a baby, i say, nearly breathless in my need to speak the dream before it and our child dissipate. a really white baby. you walked me around the neighborhood so i could finish giving birth to our organs, mine and the baby’s. i feel an emptiness between my legs where there once was weight heavy as grapefruit.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎what?
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎
it was like, afterbirth? but forever. our baby was sitting in a car seat with a blanket over her head because babies can’t see the sunlight until they’re older. i don’t tell lucy that in the dream the child’s eyes are sewed shut, like they’re ready to exist within the world but aren’t prepared to see it.

***

TAMIR RICE was twelve, but his friends were called associates by prosecutors. his airsoft replica was missing the orange safety feature that would have marked it as not a real gun. i know he would have been killed regardless. the white cop speeding to the scene of an imaginary crime and shooting as his feet hit the ground did not look for orange bands or soft eyes, open.

***

you were holding my hand and we were walking and my guts were dribbling down into my socks.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎lucy puts her bowl on the plastic bin she uses as a bedside table. the weight shifts the bin’s top and her retainer rattles, metal coated in thick white shuddering.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎there was so much of it, i say. i look down at my thighs again, blanket kicked aside, and feel the parts of me that i fear will always feel empty, now, my desire for a child something new and burning.

***

my baby won’t be white. my children will be safe nowhere. do i birth them anyway? is this how creators of brown and black children feel—grapefruit forever hanging from body in form of organs dragging? never letting go. unable to.

***

two minutes after her brother is murdered, TAMIR’S SISTER runs toward the body. the two white cops do not console her. they shove her to the ground. they push her inside a patrol car, handcuffed for their own protection.

***

tamir rices [sic] momma just want money. lets [sic] make the proper changes… raise your kids not to play with fake guns stupid bitch (facebook comment from cleveland metropolitan school district police officer).

***

SAMARIA RICE has since been forced to move to a homeless shelter because she could no longer live next door to the killing field of her son (case: 1:14-cv-02670-so doc #: 25 filed: 05/04/15 4 of 12. pageid #: 261).

***

maybe it is not queer to build family. maybe two bi girls building a family will be seen as another form of “passing.” but maybe we can call it queer anyway, our building an interracial, two-girl family, mixing my white girlfriend with my half-black brother and birthing someone new.
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎i fear doctor’s forms and picking-up-early-from-school forms. i fear adults looking up at my face and then down into the face of my child and not seeing me there. i fear lucy standing beside me as adults look from face to face to face and see nothing they recognize. is that not the ultimate queering?
‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎does theory have any place among dead bodies?

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