One of Us (after Christchurch)

By | 1 February 2021

And what does it say about us,
That we turn
And turn
And turn
Turn a funeral into a festival, a spectacle,
Because mourning feels too heavy, dark spots
On our already dark skins.

We cast off headscarves in fear, force ourselves
To watch as others claim them,
A misplaced notion of

Do not show how this hurts.
We are the ‘good ones’,
Who always forgive
Our murderers and our saviours,
Sometimes both the same.

Do not let them see any moment
Of weakness, of anger, of emotion. Instead,
We school our sorrow and our rage
Into something more…
Acceptable, palatable,
Something that would make them say
“See, these are the good ones.”

“They are one of us.
They are us.”

The names of the dead are lost, whispers
In the chatter around politicianscelebrityactivists,
Vying to outdo one another
In this new exercise of publicity.

Is this what it means, to be “one of us”?

To have our pain leave our lips and float away,
Unheard, instantly lost and forgotten,
Forgotten, like the reason
People have gathered in the streets:
Supporting you in this difficult time
Thoughts and prayers for your community
Aren’t you glad you are here, where it’s safe?

They are here
Not to bear witness, but to be witnessed,
To take up even more space
So we,
And our grief,
And our rage,
May not be seen or heard
Unless we fit the bill,
Unless our bodies and our stories
Are displaced, replaced,
By this single one:

This is not us
This is not us
This is not us

But it is.

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