Thundering Silence.

Dsc02480by Michelle Seyner24 Sep 2019

There is no silence worse
than the silence of my friends.
It is worse than any words
my enemies may come up with.
It is worse than the daily racism
I carry like my ill-fitting skin,
another chronic pain I just endure
as an inescapable part of life.
If only I were Indo solely
when the food is served.
If only I, as a whole person,
my ethnicity also essential,
was embraced like the names
of my dishes roll off of
white people's tongues.
If only my white friends understood
there is no opting out for me,
that I do not seek it,
that the ghoul of racism
follows me as surely
as my own shadow does,
that it breathes the air that
is denied me
and that their silence
forces me to speak
LOUDER. That my skin
is no safe place, that my food
is no protective shield,
that I get to see, every day,
what some people would do to me
and mine, for our audacity
to breathe... How we are described
as vermin. As pollution.
As inhuman. As pests that need
killing. Dirt that needs cleaning.
Am I not a good friend?
Would I not speak out for you?
And over the racist bullets
politicians fire from their mouths
I hear the silence of my friends
loud, louder, loudest....
My passport is no magical anchor,
nor does it make me white,
and how many times do you
fear you get your son back
in a body bag, if he's "arrested"
by the wrong sort of cop?
And you are blissfully unaware
of all the prayers I say
for all the Black friends
my children call their kin,
or how my heart grows
when they laugh, and I pray
these young Black people
may have laughter woven
through their days, and I pray they
may gather in my safe house
countless more times, to laugh
and be young, and hang out
with those who love them most -
like young people should.
And I don't even tell you
how I stiffen and freeze
when cops are near,
marching past with their weaponry
on display. Like a car-crash
I cannot avert my eyes from,
and I choke on the names
of people of colour killed by cops
so they won't spill from my lips
in a lament that has no end,
can know no end
until this STOPS - or I am dead.
Whichever is first. And I don't know
how to dó this, sometimes,
how to breathe in an era
where white people think
being cálled a racist
is worse than BEING one,
where some of my white friends
can't stand to hear about this
while they leave me alone
to LIVE with this.
As if my ethnicity
is a dress I found somewhere,
a garment I tried on for size
and then only wear
while cooking. And why, why
aren't you worried about me,
like I am worried about you and
yours? Why do you like my
recipes, but not my posts
about racism?
And your silence drowns out
all the noise. It is louder than
everything else. And, dear
Goddess, dear Goddess -
how much LOUDER
do I need to GET
before you HEAR ME?
How loudly must I SCREAM
for you to break your silence?!

24 September 2019.
Michelle Seyner.