I once walked and ran great distances—

I once wanted to vanish—

I once wrote letters to a prisoner at Guantánamo. The letters always came back
opened. One day, shortly after I interviewed the police chief (famous for
fashioning the restraint chair prisoners are strapped into for force-feeding),
I received a call. Someone on the other end laughed and then said they were calling
from Guantánamo to order pizza—

I order White Supremacy Is Terrorism T-shirts—the shirt Patricia Okoumou wore
on July 4, 2018, the day she scaled Lady Liberty armed with a modest proposal:
In a democracy, we do not put children in cages—

I pee in the woods near deer droppings—

I pick ticks off the dog—

I plunge my hands in hot water, chop onions—

I pour water from one bucket to another; already the large bucket is empty—

I read of a man, released from Guantánamo, now raising pigeons—

I read of terrorist training cells—

I release the string to my son’s flexible flyer and he’s off, shrieking like I used to—

I remember all the places I had to journey to—

I remember as a child, melting snow off my mittens on a woodstove, and just how
that snow sizzled. My son now does the same thing. Removes his gloves right over
the iron surface on purpose. Snow from his gloves zigzags atop the black stove—

I remember my father running around with a tennis racket, chasing after a bat—

I remember the day my father handed me an article about human flying squirrels—

I remember talking with April—

I remember what it was like to think I was safe, that my dad could protect me—

I replay Darnella Frazier’s video in my mind—

I run down the road clutching a jar of black currant jam—

I said stupidly to April: I’ve had my heart do weird things

I see home in Horace Pippins’ paintings. I’m thinking about the woods
where I was reared and what they did to me. I am walking in the dark—

I see now—

I sell $150 of ice cream by the end of the day. I’m the top seller. High girl
of the day
, says George—

I sit at John Brown’s farm. Brown never really lived here, and most Black people
who settled here moved on. Brown, the white revolutionary, fancied himself
a father of freed men come to homestead. Look here at all that commemorates him
as contrasts what is left of my friend—

I sit on a pickle jar—

I speak to someone of not feeling safe. Flags flying correlate with the absence of facemasks.
How quickly the zoning changes, how targeted we are—

I take a flower out of my son’s bike chain and watch—

I tell him about the creaking gate, my dad in the ditch—

I tell my son a story now in which he and his friend flee
Trump supporters. They fly on magnetic brooms underground.
He and his friend’s monkey chuck coconuts
at one Trump supporter who keeps shooting
the nuts until he is buried

in coconut water. I tell the tale as we drive past
the most rickety homes still flying Trump Rambo flags—

I think my son and I were shot at yesterday on the drive home. There is no other
sense to make of the sound so loud and close; no rock could have hit the car
with such force and not broken something. The crack must have been a bullet—

I think of April at the sink, untwirling her updo—

I think of X’s bright shoelaces—

I think: as long as the walk-around my father cut through the wood exists
and my son walks it, he will be okay; my father’s ghost will guide him—

I try to whisper to my son to look the other way—

I used to talk to April’s mother—

I wake in the middle of the night and wonder who the Uber driver was who ferried April—

I wake with these words for April—