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what i don’t get

butterlylonely

“Black pony, big moon,
and olives in my saddlebag.
Although I know the roads
I’ll never reach Cordoba.”

—from Rider’s Song by Federico Garcia Lorca

It’s too bad that my understanding of slavery is so influenced by movies like Django Unchained and the TV miniseries Roots, which aired in the 70s and is deeply lodged in my mind. Most of all I remember Kizzy. Even though I’ve seen scholarly renderings of the conditions below deck on the transatlantic slave ships, my mental image is informed by some horny Hollywood filmmaker’s storyboard. Yeah, well, I go to the movies, maybe I shouldn’t. I go because I am accustomed to going. Because I have always gone. And what else am I going to do.

And I don’t get why black children living in Newark, NJ, which is not far from here, are literally going hungry, starving. While I have three lawn-and-leaf bags full of discarded clothes on my front porch. I’m waiting for a charity truck to swing by for a pick-up. My children have outgrown their clothes, and I just don’t want mine anymore. The charity calls me every couple of months to see if I have anything to throw away. Can they send a truck to pick it up? Just leave it on the porch.

Sometimes you get a glimpse of kids in Africa on TV or the internet. They are in their villages, on dirt roads, or scrappy soccer fields with patchy grass. You see them, they swarm around the news cameras. The cameramen are looking for stories. Disease, suffering, poverty, civil war, orphans. That kind of story. And when these cameras capture the images of African kids, singing or playing soccer, or just lurking around at the edges of some other scene, the kids always seem to be wearing American tee shirts and shorts, pants. Old Navy casuals.

A woman in my son’s toddler playgroup, years ago, told me that the clothes we give to charity get shipped over to Africa. We chatted about this while our babies crawled through piles of toys we would eventually discard. She said that donated items sometimes end up there. I think she said that. But I might have made it up.

And I don’t get why Mother’s Day makes me feel like a fire-breathing monster. It’s got nothing to with my kids. They give me handmade cards and try to act sweet all day, which doesn’t usually work but I don’t have much attachment to being the guest of honor. No, my squirreling despair on Mother’s Day is all because of the kind of kid I am. Except I’m not a kid, I’m an adult. But the kid lives on inside me of course and she is CONFUSED, especially when the world puts pressure on her to feel a certain way toward a certain person. So I wake up the day after Mother’s Day in a sort of undead state; it’s a good day to audition for a zombie film.

I’m not an actress, of course, except that every relationship is a performance. Even looking into the mirror.
I stand this way, I turn my head slightly, I focus on the good stuff, my eyes maybe. They look the same.

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