Red Summer

by Matlaleng Babatunde

If a Black girl falls in the middle of a night
Does she make a sound
Will anyone hear me
Or am I just a lone tree
Elongate my limbs cut off my trunk
I’ve no longer got a home
I’m a loner that roams
Will I make a sound

Bleach the pain away
Till there’s no more Black till there’s no more you
Retame your soul
Put yourself in a cage
Burn away all remnants of Renisha and Michael and pretend this summer never happened
Forget the tear gas, even though its malevolent fumes still burn your eyes
Forget the screaming though your throat is still raw with thunder
Forget the pain and the maimings
And the pain and the maimings
And be at peace
Bleach your memories away till all that’s left is peace

But you can’t bargain for something as intangible and fleeting as peace
Forget the bitter taste of the strange fruit
Let your mind be hung up
On a pedestal
Until it rots and stinks
Like an unkempt meat and then you will know this rage
This rage that takes over me
Till I black out I Black out I black Out
One second I’m saying don’t shoot and the next second I am six bullet holes, a sun spoiled corpse, fermented dreams
I am no angel

Scrub the blood from this red summer away
Somewhere between the red puddles and Black skin you must find from within
to Dance
Do anything you can to stay alive
Forget the rage
Forget the hands up
Forget the bulging eyes and twisted mouth
Forget the way your muscles twitched from holding your hands up for so long
Forget your Blackness.
There’s no room for that here
We just some Black faces floating in White spaces
Ain't nothing more ain't nothing less
No room for thoughts for emotions for anger rage or grief
Only room for numbness

Can we hold any more pain my loves
We are not an a thousand cheeked people.
Can we turn any more cheeks my loves
I can feel it now
My face disappearing into white space
My soul being fine crushed into dust and scatter along the nothingness like stars
My mind being informed and transformed and deformed
And somehow I will have to transform this red summer into empty dead white.
Can we hold any more red my loves

Photo credit: Deposit Photo