Hold Me Through These Dreams
Words by Brother Portrait
We are children lying on the grass, smiling and well fed. Each of us woven through grandmothers’ hands and earth the same way. Her fables spoken into interlacing strands, metaphor made on the strength of our braids, seam of the cloth – the holding and held. We play alongside the quiet and constant cultivation of her days, abundance this season and preservation for the next. Caretaker of the land and all life on it. Who grew like the banana tree, three generations at home in the body, kind of power they say is God’s. Wisdom. Life giving fierce love. Warrior forever on the frontline. Let us gift rest to you tireless. Here, a bathtub, a potion to coax out ease. Here, our smiles and laughter. Here, a towel, a blanket for safety. Here, a bed of lavender and camomile flowers. Here, honour. Here, everything gentle.
Ours a covenant across time from before-before for generations hence. Cry freedom from ghouls who when flesh, tried destroy we. Who above do meddle so below, we see still their wicked ways.
When power is a heavy heel on our back, turns bitter on tongues the words for colour and body and faith. Does pacify and call it kindness, punish as ingrate our self-respect. From behind it’s violence, appeal to us for peace. We plea not for balance, that certainty of time, for one day all will be under a serene sea. Our many hands make trouble, spike the wheel then push it back, hear power groan, its rusted chains making stubborn against the motion.
They are eating themselves. We would be full of morbid fascination if the bloody mess of it all was not the same stain in our rivers and clot in our veins. The hypertension and complications from diabetes, the breakouts and death from a broken heart. Their grubby mitts on our crockery and cook pot. Our own, who in pursuit of the gleam mimic their glut. A rotund figure and a life rich in spoils from the toil of others. The never going home, told this is not your home. Everything disproportionate. From looking too long at black bodies in fear, in the mirror now a black body in fear. Fear. This bloody mess on all our grief. In death a grief, in joy a grief, in promise and hope a grief and this bloody mess on all of it. All now, I haven’t washed it off and look a flood again. They are eating themselves to death, talking with their mouths full and gesticulating nonsensical. We don’t answer. They are eating themselves to death because they do not know how else to kill us. Because in their minds if they do not exist, no one does.
We are in the mangroves, it is the last day of the rain season and all is verdant and brimming. We swim some, tend to roots in gratitude for their protection, touch foreheads to the soft bark and leaves. Eat fruit and share the seeds with the soil. Play with everything breathing, a blissed out menagerie stroked by the water and wind, nourished through to our innards and out.
Later we splint saplings with matchsticks and string. This one torn by unknown brutalities looks in parts scalded from neglect. Was roughed and felt it all. So must be sung to daily and with a soft palm, gently turned towards the sun. Told lay on me the full weight of your weary, ask all the whys, how could life be’s, who would make such a world? Why survive if after all that suffer, this? Show, knowing today will bring no solace, your beautiful scar. The light limp sending your walk into dance.
Imagine, they called justice the man with a pale horsehair periwig on his head and voice like piles and constipation. What a lie.
We laugh bent double, tears in our eyes, though the laughing don’t laugh out the sadness. We laugh until our shoulders pulse to breathless sobs. Taste the salt from our eyes and sweet from our nostrils. Shake off the shame flaked like dead skin around us. Sweep what the wind is too weak to carry. Keep a small mound for the corner shrine, to wonder on how that dust was first a fist, a heavy silence, rejection and fight.
Tears in our eyes, we cry until we sleep, dreaming ourselves quiet and mouthless. Find that even then, we are only at the edge of silence. You can still hear you, fighting with yourself in all the voices that raised you. Everything they feared for you become protection. As if one could be scared invisible to threats, an ear beaten deaf to insults. We ran, of course, and now the body is a hiding place for panics all too eager to be found. Here, forgiveness for this feeling. Here, the glee of a world that believes in you. A well of understanding and truth, but always over to and up to you. Here, a salve until the wound seals. A wall of ears. Here, some help, but you must face this mess you made.
Our fingers pull in until knuckles touch a palm and clasp. We shift weight until our bodies are a circle. Holding hands and holding. Speaking in our heart a covenant. Because they loved us before they knew us, many knowing we would never meet. We live and love those we do not yet know and know we will never meet.
The cipher hums a chord; some sing the highs, others the lows, five tones today. Both word and sound notation in the bodies sway. A suite of omnibenevolent beauty in the key of transformation. Morning song of the butterfly, dew heavy wings at rest. Cusp of season, of moon phase, of shadow soon disappeared. In-breaths and sighs. Holding hands and holding. We are all in the centre bathed in light and softened by it, touched on the back of our necks. We dance and fling our limbs. Some of us were born with dirt under our nails so in the instance of remembering dig our fingers deep into the same land our mothers were wrenched from. Lay face down coddled by the mulch, are asked again to forgive ourselves for all our sakes. Our young will grow to love this sound, want it on the gums after morning milk. Flourish in the freedom it brings. Clapping with grandmothers’ hands.