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Ash Heap

February 8, 2023 by

There are things I was going to do today

that I will not do today because

today I am sitting in my ash heap, picking at my wounds.


Wounds that are deep. Wide. An abyss.  A trench.

Salted by the tears of Tyre’s Mama. And George’s Mama. And Sandra’s Mama. And Randy’s Mama.  And Clifford’s Mama. And all the Mamas. And the Daddies.  Cause Daddies cry too. Even if we don’t see the tears.

And I am stopping myself from calling my Daddy and my past-50-year-old brother every 15 minutes to make sure that they still hold breath. And I’m restraining myself from ordering tracking devices for my three nephews’ phones so that I always know where they are. Cause that will only lead me to spending my days tracking their trackers. Just for my own comfort, because tracking them won’t make them any safer. They’ll still be Black. They’ll still be male. They’ll still be seen as dangerous. Even if they’re only skateboarding. Or bird watching. Or hoodie wearing. Or Skittles eating.  Or running.  Or walking. Or breathing. Because their very breath makes them dangerous.  Apparently.

These wounds are deep. Yeah, they scab over and lull you into thinking that the wound is healed.  But every day in this here America, there exists the likelihood that the wound of racism will burst open and the blood and pus and stench and putridness will rush forward and you’ll understand and know that no healing has been found.  The rankness, the infection sits just under the surface, seething, bubbling, and will show itself unhealed when the next attack comes.

And I have more questions than answers.

And I have more tears than comfort.

And my breath is shallow. My thoughts are scattered. This wound, these wounds are deep.  They hurt.  They gnaw.

And they steal.  They kill.  They destroy.

They defy St. John suits and red-bottom shoes.  They laugh at Ivy league educations and summers on the Vineyard.  They do not care if you know the right fork or verb to use.  Nor are they stopped by your perfect English.  No.  The throbbing, pulsating wound reminds us that these strivings we’ve been conditioned to pursue as shields do not matter.  All of it is a fakery, like a lollipop for a child about to get a measles shot.  It’s real good til your arm starts hurting.

Til someone questions your presence.  Or your place.  Or your breath.  And the wound roars to the surface once again.

And soon enough, I will have to be back in the world, back at work, back on stage.  Guiding.  Leading.  Comforting.  Consoling.  Wiping Tears.  Holding Hands.  Soothing brows.  Making sense of the senseless.  A wounded healer.  With the right words, and the right tone, and the right face, and the right look.  Those who share the pain, who know the pain, will see me and recognize that scab.

But today.

There were things. I was going to do today. That I will not do today. Because today. I am sitting in my ash heap. Picking at my wounds.


©2023  Leah D. Daughtry.  All rights reserved.