All the real niggas are dead or in prison. We are elaborating gently. We are gooey in the middle. The distance between those twin possibilities is Cartesian. We know they will kill us, in small & flagrant ways. Still, we follow breadcrumbs & hope for a dignified annihilation. Slippery as newborn calves, we glisten. We are fighting for the inalienable right to be ugly & still have an open casket. We are loud about our pain & the world hates us for it. We kill with the blunt instrument of kindness.
Some people are born possessive nouns. Some people leave & others stay. Amal with the soft earlobes, the suppressed lisp. Raspberry milkshakes at the park. The skin on her knees like wild chanterelles foraged at dawn. Recall the violet of her mood ring. Forever stuck on the colour of asphyxiation. We are suspicious of purple, Jarman wrote, it has a hollow bombast. We found his words in the clammy belly of a Hampstead charity shop. His purple was exhibitionism, Hendrix, impish Prince, imperial tyranny, smut, the smell of Alexander the Great’s piss, luxury, a violation of decent taste. Always, a passage. Some people are drawn to the dusk of other interpretations. Easter. Funk. Failure. Christian repentance in violet robes. Away from our cluttered sadness, Jarman wields his cane, bent like a prophet-in-waiting. We are gassed up & drunk off our own subjectivity. Terminally disappointed the way babygirls raised on prophets & rappers are bound to be. Both die young & leave behind poor imitations. We refuse to destroy ourselves to give meaning to your Order.
During that inching hour just before Iftar, the holiest month was ushered in by IM chat sessions & notification alerts. She moved to Cairo just in time for the revolution. Like clockwork. There we go again. Blackness as centripetal force, as timekeeping beyond time, as magpie collation, as marooned miscellany, as an inventory under siege, as a mad ting, a wahala, a junoon, a reverie of blue-veined jinns, as a crush of meaning, a sodden map, a returnless edge, a stutter of absence. Satellite beams marble & cubic zirconia & televised coverage of millions breaking their fasts courtesy of the Saudi government-run station. Yaa Allah, do not impose on us one who does not have mercy on us, one who does not fear You. The centre witholding again. Like when Muna’s sister left for medical school in Damascus, only for the war to start & she told everyone she didn’t get this far just to leave without graduating & her aabo said he didn’t give a shit if a bomb fell on her head she was going to be a doctor otherwise what was the point of trekking ten days on his feet to reach the Kenyan border. We wished her what we could. Well.
Yusra in Al Rehab City. Me in Blighty. They tried to make me go to Al Rehab, I said no, no, no. Prepaid calling card just to make that dead joke. The first among many. Amal? She left. Maryam too. Nasra & Iman. All gone. All specialists in the art of errantry. Egypt is like mandatory military service for the likes of us. We all gotta do our time. Tahya Masr! There will be other arrivals, other disintegrations, to come. You won’t know it until you do. Let this be the fragmented measure of our exquisitely accumulated realness. Realness as quantified by the lusciously clandestine currency of struggle, whatever that means to whoever is asking. I love you like I love each & every one of my girls, my Xalimos & Xayaats & Xanaans, full-throated, helicopter-pad, pulmonic-sourced, slave-name substitute, irritant- hazard-symbolled, cryptic, antepenultimate, decennial dolls. We are the vectors of our own beginnings. Neither former nor latter, we sing of the blood-borne dispossession, the night sweats, the tactile touch, the nevermore thereafters, the heart’s knock-kneed double dutch.
Here’s to all the demoralized duplicates. The scale of your horror is Homeric. Who else can strut without destination, without the slightest inclination to believe in what is said about you? This cheap pocket mirror is all the reflection you need. Everything else bears the flatness of chronology. Bask. Look behind your shoulder. What did they leave you with? This gush of continuity errors. This skipping record. Understudy for a role you will never inhabit. Your grandmother’s mole, like your father’s status, skipped a generation. Let bitterness drizzle over you. Somewhere, in some other wafer-thin slice of reality, your dreams are pillowed. You are middle class & sleekly Afropolitan. An ingénue sucking the sap of state corruption off your fingers. You are a kitten- heeled Mogadishu ⇌ Rome shuttler. A well-bred hustler. Street kids shine your shoes and you will still think you are innocent. Buckle in the present. Count your blessings. For camels passing through the eyes of needles. For being born two decades too late for the fluff of such fantasies. For your clean hands. Occupy the here & now, in loud-mouthed Midwestern skin, shaking slush from boots. Or supple against the spine of a wheezing Europe. In puffer-jacketed Rinkeby glory. Baptized in the public waters of North London lidos. In landless love.