It turns out we can’t breathe because we are holding our breath,
waiting on the next thing to happen…
I’ve been gone too long…
I’ve been taking my walks and my five deep breaths.
I draw the baths, eat well, and rest my body.
I even experience peace and happiness in the quiet of the morning.
And yet, these regimens end up being temporary distractions.
I return to the realities: a superhero suffering in silence and an immobilized Black man being shackled to a hospital bed.
And then, tomorrow comes…
and the next land mine goes off…
and the next chariot awaits…
and I realize that life– this gift that we eventually have to give back– won’t let up.
Somehow I have to live…
And so, I return to the soil that grew me.
Our ancestors had it right.
Life is a continuum and we are visitors on this planet.
They knew we could not handle the ravages of this world in our own strength,
so they gave us songs to sing if ever we were on the other side of the track, and it’s dark, and we are terrified.
They left us their hymns of hope, their battle cries, and their gems for injustice.
They taught us how to pray and not become prey.
How to intercede.
They gave God to us!
and helped us to see that the Holy of Holies was a state of being.
They told us to leave our burdens with the Lord and that we’d rest better if we could just do that.
They taught us how to sacrifice a praise and they magnified Jesus so we would come to know real, sacrificial love.
Yes, our Grandmamas did that…
They gave us a plan for defense and a strategy for tragedy.
They knew that we alone were not equipped to handle these adversities,
all the discrimination and suffering.
They knew that grief was a continuous freight train
rushing across a steel railway in our backyard.
It screams at us and we scream back.
Our souls are crying out
and we are a mess,
muddling through our millennial minds,
tripping over our words and woke-ness.
Our Mamas had it right.
They knew we had to be forgeable and tough, just like the steel.
And they were so right.
Without an ever-living One, our ancestors knew we’d become too paralyzed by death, forgetting that it is indeed not permanent.
Before we knew the ancestral plane was real, our beautiful people gave us imagery of heavenly gates and told us that one day we would see them all standing there with open arms…
I am convinced, though.
Paradise is an expansive field and our stories of joy and pain dwell in the skies above it.
Freedom is something we all have yet to experience.
Clinnesha is a wife, mom, daughter/sister/auntie, literary artist, humanities scholar, and social entrepreneur. Her advocacy work is at the intersection of black/feminist thought, arts, culture, and community.