Someone Died Today

Someone died today, and there were no surprises— 
not to those of us who’d seen it before, who live 
with our faces to glass panes, unable to look away 
because there is no ‘away’; we have never known a 
holiday from these things, there are no moments in 
which we are truly unaware, unconscious, blinded to 
it; it sits in our stomachs from the moment our parents, 
and forbearers warned us not to trust ‘them’—those things 
that come easy, and soft to others: like a love in which 
there is no ticking bomb; a friendship in which there is no 
shoe raised, and poised, no dropping, or crushing to avoid; 
like the pages in which your history is one of kingdoms, and 
conquering, not of subjugation, and loss (a loss you are 
still deeply intimate with, that marks your skin, and your face, 
leaves a stench down to the roots of the trees that bore you, 
a stench that you have not yet learned to wash away); because 
even the fantasies they sell us, leave only a bitter trail of tears, 
they rest on our shoulders beneath the skulls of heavy matter 
that rip even the most arcane dreams to shreds, for we have 
never known fairies, lost even the little magic some of us crossed 
the waters with, while others had the very graves of their ancestors’ 
bones, washed away in black rivers, had their tongues cut from them 
so the magic could not pass on; it is not that we have lost ourselves, 
or the bits of us that could flinch in surprise at another body dropping, 
but rather it is that we have grown suckling on the margins of death, 
have held its teat while we learned to walk skirting its robe, were taught 
which of us might go next so we knew not to accidentally cross its path 
on wounded knee, and so, we find it—this tragedy that unfolded before 
us—not a moment of surprise (for we have been stomaching the disregard 
for human life from the instant we were displaced from the womb, skulls 
cracked open on auction blocks sometimes, other times ripped from 
the land in flickering torchlight, or by white savages, holding scriptures in 
one hand, and the threat of end in the other), but of grim forbearance, 
as we looked to our cousins in genocide, and nodded in resignation at the 
intersections where some of us held hands in relations closer than ancestry, 
because we were tired, and angry, and hurt, that it took one of your own to 
force your faces to the glass pane, too—someone died today, and yesterday, 
and the day before that, and the century before that, and the tragedy in this, 
is that there were no surprises, only another terrible death we warned you of, 
another terrible thing that could have been avoided if you had listened to us. 
K.N.O.W. Saturday, August 12, 2017.