“We Were Taught to Serve God and Country” and “This is Happening, This Will Happen”

We Were Taught to Serve God and Country

We were taught we could do anything in brown polyester jumpers—barely long enough to cover our bottoms—orange neckties of sorts, and felt beanie caps. We were taught to gather lint from our mothers’ dryers. This would make fresh-smelling kindling. We were taught to heat coals in flames, to wrap cardboard boxes in foil, to sing songs in rounds. These would make heat and ovens and harmony. We were taught to stir batter in the rain and stand tall. This would make cakes in the forest and girls too proud to climb trees.



This is Happening, This Will Happen

Sheila sits in a row of chairs under a clock. She listens to throats clearing, newspapers opening and folding, the gurgle of a fish tank. Periodically names are called and people leave. Soon, someone in excessively comfortable shoes will call her name. She’ll be permitted to keep her clothes on this time. A man with a marinara stain on a white coat or maybe a woman with a mustard stain will read from a folder. The words will sound like they are written in ALL CAPS. None of them will be, except ADENOCARCINOMA. The software in the lab means no harm.


The Rites of a Light Heart

Their husbands’ rigid fists became hands glib with plant soil, and instead of bruises down their thighs, they saw hickies planted like booby-traps along their collarbones.


Biomedicine is a shameless Cartesian purgatory committed to betraying Black bodies the way it betrayed my mother.