Perhaps I Am A Fugitive Of Empathy

By Marlanda Dekine-Sapient Soul

Vigilant for so long,

I am full. There are centuries

of terror crawling just beneath my skin.

I no longer consider anyone’s noise as my noise.

I care for
Henrietta and all the names
whispered in my ear
from the sage
oak trees.

I don’t care about the father of modern gynecology,
honored on South Carolina’s golf course capital.

Memory floods
when I walk on some grasses because white clovers pushed honey
while Black penises fell upon them.

I think of which bodies
have saved bodies
without permission,
without mutuality.

I think of Black
bodies who didn’t make it
off the bloody table.

So I don’t die
at the hands of myself standing in the shoes of whiteness,

I’ve been dancing with my Spirit
beneath old cedars.

I’ve been building my imagination
by visiting with feral cats.

I’ve been burying my feet in the dirt,
staring at magnolia trees, and counting waves
in the Atlantic.

Exhausted of singing in an empire’s hopeful choir,

I’ve been sitting with my grandmas
in their photographs
while wafting frankincense and myrrh,
and I’ve been thinking
about what Giovanni said to Baldwin
in that resurfaced interview on the language of love:

if  you don’t understand yourself,
you don’t understand anybody else.

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