sainthillaire_article

Sun

Back before I knew the politics of walking with your chin up
When I was bright eyed and 20/20’d
I’d sneak to the outer orbit of the playground
nestle myself between the comets and leftover kickballs
and watch the sun sing itself purple

Like a tuning fork wobbling into place,
The sun would sway somewhere between sapphire and emerald
Shedding stained glass over my sight
It was a parade for the patient…and the reckless
for the kids who wait till greenlights to play hopscotch
the ones who save their kite string for thunderstorms

For a black boy who was too scared of making people feel scared
Sun-gazing was my way of feeling dangerous,
Jumping from the top of the stairs
screaming at the mirror
Grasping the iron just long enough to feel the heat
These are the ways I stay sane
My last resorts for when I leave myself on mute for too long

With our eyes locked skyward
We can still feel the cautious glances
Nervous surveillance pulled taught
Draped over our skin
More like a villain’s cape than a bull’s eye
Lead, velvet, billowing
Reminding us we are always dangerous

I’d holster my hands
lock my eyelids
search for ways to make myself seem less like a bomb
For ways to diffuse the clutched purses and tense shoulders
I tiptoed in the daylight
hoping the ground would forget I am there
Thinking what part of a black boy’s imagination was there left to declaw?
To make protect people from?

It’s only now that I realized I haven’t stared at the sun in a while
I walk light, I keep my eyes on the cement
I cross the street when I see old white ladies coming
Like I’m afraid of what they’re afraid of
Like my eyes on the horizon meant I am hunting
Meant I am deserving of being hunted

Now I keep my spine arched
Always to dive into my shadow
And forget how sorry I am for their fear
How I hold the weight of their worry between my shoulders
And tell myself they’re wings
How walking without remembering my skin sets me too close to the sun
Forgot how in the sunlight black boys look charred
With red in their eyes and coal in their grip
Forget how to stare at the sun

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