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Go to everything heavy and weeping inside you with chicken soup and warm blankets.

The only way to heal is a pilgrimage to your wounds.

Tamika Palmer

I think about Breonna Taylor’s mom a lot.

I’ve never met Tamika Palmer, but in Breonna’s childhood pictures,

I see something like my mom and me–

Joy smeared from cheek to cheek, with her little one bundled up.

In quotes, her grief shakes the text.

I’ve never met Tameka Palmer, but she had a daughter who was five days younger than I am.

Meaning that while my mom held me in California, she held Breonna in Michigan at the same time.

Now, my mom says all lives matter,

And I wonder that if I were killed sensely while I slept if my killers’ lives would weigh as heavy in her heart as mine does.

My mom isn’t talking to me right now, and still, I am sure she loves me.

I wonder what that love looks like on the other side of murder.

I wonder if she’d pray so hard it’d tear the sky apart and render God deaf because her shrieks are so loud. If the ozone later would break in half and capsize the Milky Way Galaxy.

I wonder how she’d hear “all lives matter” when it’s so obvious that three men didn’t agree. If that’d sound like a bell tolling or a scream or just a “fuck you” to all the years I was hers and now I am but I’m not.

I think about Tamika Palmer a lot. I think about Breonna more. I had five more days by fate getting here, and now, I have endless years that I shouldn’t know I have this counterpoint. But I do.

I do. The only difference is that I am white.

My mom is white,

and Tamika is black.

And that’s why Tamika grieves while my mom says, “All lives matter”.

Translating my dad’s language

“I love you,”

My dad’s mouth struggles to say it.

Not from ailment or illness.

He learned love as a parent loving you enough to withhold, insult, isolate.

“I love you, and so I make you better in informing you how useless you currently are.”

I wonder how many times he translated “selfish” to “potential” or “worthless” to “worthy”, only that I never want my loved ones to translate everything I tell them.

That’s the thing about being an adult with a living parent, we notice the ghosts that haunted them throughout our childhoods. Parent melt from horrible to human.

He is sixty-five now, and age has softened the harsh corners of his language. He calls he every Sunday, and if he doesn’t say it, I say it first.

“I love you.” my mouth, an operatic megaphone to those words. “I love you. I see you. I’m proud of you”. I say them to him, the words my dad longed to hear from his dad.


I didn’t know it at the time.

That the pauses were teachers, too.

The delays were never denials, just deferrments,

A snooze button on my Veruka Salt screams, “I want it now”.

Even in the interim, the universe carries me somewhere.

I am a backseat driver while the universe is at the wheel, and I don’t know the terrain we’re traversing,

But she does. She hears my shouts for premature turns, unsuspecting pit stops.

She laughs,

“You are headed somewhere grand, sweet girl. Just give it time.”