Bodies in Motion

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Photo by Sarah Anderson

As I look with the benefit of hindsight on the results of last week’s election, I see the way that progressive white people like me failed to pull our weight. Because we felt assured of the outcome, too many of us neglected to have the hard conversations with the people in our lives who needed to hear our perspectives.

People of color will suffer for our neglect. But, rather than write some think-piece about white guilt or voting demographics or the great divide between red and blue America, I wrote a poem. Lord have mercy, I wrote a poem.

Bodies in Motion

I thought the ground would hold you
Not open up, gaping, soundless, unrepentant
To swallow you, all at once

I thought the ground would hold you
And not give you away, to float untethered, growing fainter each moment

I thought the ground would hold you
And not rise up to bind your ankles
To make you stumble, shackled, at each step

And so I gave them not a second look
The men with shovels, digging through the night
Carving trenches where we were meant to step
And so I gave them not a second thought
The women, burrowing beneath us
Patting the loose earth to firm it for themselves

And so I gave them not a second
These people endeavoring to unmake gravity

I believed the ground would hold you
So I set my eyes ahead, remarking on the curvature of the horizon
“Bending toward justice,” I said, the blossom of an idea planted seasons past
A hope that rooted me not in the dirt beneath us
But in the clouds all caught up in the bluster
In the swell that pushed us more apart, but gently
So gently that I did not think to pull myself back to you

And here we begin, as this new disturbance settles
Bodies in motion
On a path I thought we’d walked before
But that you—made to feel unequal, opposite—saw still before us

And here we find our footing
Careful not to look too far ahead
One step, another
Rebuilding the ground as we go, tamping it down
Remaking gravity with the weight of our worry
A reaction to a reaction to a reaction

Behind us, bodies at rest remain
Does that mean we are in motion?

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