This is the difficult. This is the strange rage laid dormant in the belly—water through the shoddy dam angry. A dry-mouthed grief at the edge of healing. This is fury. The stinging ache of a not-touched body. The beginning of the moan, guttural—before the song comes. This is the painful. The scratchy red of eyes at the precipice of old tears finally ready to flow. This is the in-between. The coughing up of after the near drown—the instinct to live and draw breath. This is excavated memory. The awareness of wrenching aortic patterns—the hot and heavy energy of ancestral unfinished business. The guilty healing vibration of “I’m sorry I’ve passed this on to you.” Fuck. Fuck this. I saw the pain in her eyes and still yelled. I raged about while she pretended nothing different was occurring. Her brain was doing the difficult mental dance post stroke to understand. She was keeping the peace or manipulating to maintain care. This is not normal. They offer “thoughts and prayers.” Sitting in the privilege of not being dirty with family story. Fuck them all. Fuck you all. Caring is a foreign concept to the settler. Empathy is a lost art to the settled. The stabbing throb of inflammation in my joints. I am pushing through to keep an elder alive. Did he die because I stopped touching him? Did I choose her skin over his love? I want to bludgeon in the old way the next person who texts to fulfill the obligation of care without the accountability of seeing taking in the impact of struggle. My right knee hurts. I am alive in the moist earth of our Mother, she knows me in a different way—it smells different with her. I awake in the filth of the city, tense with the abundance of settled walking about post-apocalyptic searching for freedom. Their comfort will always cost the lives of the human beings. He wears my shirt and I hope it is enough that he will never feel what it is like to live in my body. His mother thinks he may be two:spirit. It is difficult to walk between the currents when the oil keeps spilling and their blood keeps pumping.
M. Carmen Lane (Tuscarora, Mohawk, African-American) is a two:spirit poet and cultural worker living in Kahyonha:ke (Cleveland, Ohio). Their poetry has been published in the Yellow Medicine Review, River Blood & Corn, and Red Ink Magazine. Carmen contributed to the Lambda Literary nominated anthology Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literatures. Their first collection of poetry is Calling Out After Slaughter (GTK Press, 2015).