Can you imagine creating a place that loves every neighbor back? In this excerpt from Danez Smith’s magnificent poem, they invite us both to lament the way things are, and to be bold in imagining a future that could be. “no need for geography/ now that we’re safe everywhere.” What vision. (Click here to listen From “summer, somewhere”)
somewhere, a sun. below, boys brown
as rye play the dozens & ball, jump
in the air & stay there. boys become new
moons, gum-dark on all sides, beg bruise
-blue water to fly, at least tide, at least
spit back a father or two. I won’t get started.
history is what it is. it knows what it did.
bad dog. bad blood. bad day to be a boy
color of a July well spent. but here, not earth
not heaven, boys can’t recall their white shirt
turned a ruby gown. here, there is no language
for officer or law, no color to call white.
if snow fell, it’d fall black. please, don’t call
us dead, call us alive someplace better.
we say our own names when we pray.
we go out for sweets & come back.
this is how we are born: come morning
after we cypher/feast/hoop, we dig
a new boy from the ground, take
him out his treebox, shake worms
from his braids. sometimes they’ll sing
a trapgod hymn (what a first breath!)
sometimes it’s they eyes who lead
scanning for bonefleshed men in blue.
we say congrats, you’re a boy again!
we give him a durag, a bowl, a second chance.
we send him off to wander for a day
or ever, let him pick his new name.
that boy was Trayvon, now called RainKing.
that man Sean named himself I do, I do.
O, the imagination of a new reborn boy
but most of us settle on alive.
sometimes a boy is born
right out the sky, dropped from
a bridge between starshine & clay.
one boy showed up pulled behind
a truck, a parade for himself
& his wet red gown. years ago
we plucked brothers from branches
unpeeled their naps from bark.
sometimes a boy walks into his room
then walks out into his new world
still clutching wicked metals. some boys
waded here through their own blood.
does it matter how he got here if we’re all here
to dance? grab a boy, spin him around.
if he asks for a kiss, kiss him.
if he asks where he is, say gone.
no need for geography
now that we’re safe everywhere.
point to whatever you please
& call it church, home, or sweet love.
paradise is a world where everything
is a sanctuary & nothing is a gun.
here, if it grows it knows its place
in history. yesterday, a poplar
told me of old forest
heavy with fruits I’d call uncle
bursting red pulp & set afire,
harvest of dark wind chimes.
after I fell from its limb
it kissed sap into my wound.
do you know what it’s like to live
someplace that loves you back?
For Reflection: Spend 10 minutes free writing or drawing a neighborhood that loves every resident back. What does it smell like there? What does it look like?