Free Write: Apology To My Brown Boy
by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh
About ten years ago, a few years before I became a mother, I wrote a poem called Apology To My Unborn about my fears for my then unborn son. My son is now 5 years old and has been asking me about Trayvon Martin. I’ve done the best I can to answer him in ways that make sense to him but I’ve become incredibly saddened by the weight of it. The fact that there are conversations that I’m going to have to have with him as he gets older that go beyond normal parenting upsets me. I hate the fact that there are rules of conduct for boys of color that are meant to keep them from being murdered senselessly. It pains me. The fact that despite these rules, it takes just one person to act out and stop their life, infuriates me. But at the end of the day, my job as a parent, is to make sure that my son doesn’t carry the weight of society. I can’t raise him to fear. I won’t.
I have been unable to write about Trayvon Martin because there is so much more to this than what I have the space to comprehend. I don’t know what to say. Tomorrow will be a month.
This morning, I did a free write on my son and Trayvon and questions and parenting and I revisited my poem Apology To My Unborn and used it as a writing prompt. This is more or less something answering myself as my son is now older and my fears have changed. This is not a work in progress because I don’t think I can stand to go back and edit and shape it into something that makes sense. I can’t let this fear and pain affect how I raise my child. I won’t.
My love and prayers go out to you and yours.
Love someone and mean it. Please.
Apology to my brown boy
You don’t sleep
you take nightfall as suggestion
welcome most morning before the sun
you dimpled face and brown
run on both solar and lunar energy
before you came, this was my only worry
that you would watch morning from the wrong side
that you would be all moving parts and jump starts
I wish this was my only fear for you
Now that you no longer occupy my womb
you have taken over my heart
so how do I protect you from this world?
How do I convince them that you are still
more chubby cheek and wide-eyed
than scowl and suspicion?
in my eyes, you are still preemie
still five pounds, 3 ounces of wrinkle and yawn
you eventually grew
into first laugh
into flurry of knees over hands
into first stumble
into unsteady steps
into first words
into always moving
into always talking
you are five years into this life journey
each day your body grows towards manhood
each day your legs lengthen
each day your face shows traces of the men that share your dna
each day you become consumed with what manhood means
each day you mother swallows her heart
I wish I could freeze you in these moments
keep you young boy and safe forever
I don’t trust this world
but I don’t want you to own this fear
you smile before your eyes open for morning
laugh with strangers
call them friend before they give you a reason not to
call them friend even when they do
why can’t I keep you like this?
why can’t the world see you like I do?
worthy of life
You ask me about the boy who face still
holds the soft roundness you recognize
ask me why his mother is on TV crying
ask me why his father won’t smile
ask me why they are all talking about this boy
ask me why they’re marching
why is everyone so sad, mommy?
Who is Trayvon?
Why was he killed?
Do I have to stop wearing my favorite jacket?
What do I say to you?
How do I answer your questions
without inviting you to my fear?
How do I make sense of this for you?
you smiling, brown faced boy
you lover of candy and soft drinks
and hooded sweatshirts that make you feel big
and tall like your uncles
you who runs when scared
fights back when cornered
how do I protect you from this?
How can I teach you to love this world
when I’m not convinced this world will love you back
there are thousands who love you sight unseen
but I can not bare the thought of losing you
if just one refuses to see your light
I wish this wasn’t a possibility
and it doesn’t get easier
I come to you every morning wishing it would
wishing I would have the words to save you
tell you that it is as simple as what you wear
or how you sound
or who you hang with
When the hood isn’t safe
but it is
when the suburbs aren’t safe
but they are
when the best schools won’t help
when the worst ones won’t teach you
when it’s not about who your friends are
but also about what company you keep
when it’s everything and nothing
when there is no reason
no apologies to turn to dust in their mouths
when none of the answers make sense
and the questions keep coming
what do I say to you?
the sun storms unwelcomed through my window
and a killer is still free
when every year there’s another story
another bloodied body that owns your face
and they are never sorry
How do I tell you to keep smiling?
To keep living?
To keep breathing?
I just do.
I keep the names of the dead firmly beneath my tongue
I hope this prevents you from turning hollow with my fear
prevents you from losing your love of candy
and if they come for you
they will know they took the heart from the lion
but they didn’t make you eat it
so forget the news
turn it off
go live the life you were intended
let me deal with this
I will make sure you have a morning worth rising for.