• Jo

A Letter to the Fires

We are familiar. Were it not for the safe you burned for Daddy and the post cigarette incense for Mommy, I may not be able to call you kin. In fact, I remember when you would crinkle the tips of my black n milds or that angel dust the night I became curious about the appetite of White girls who seemed to have it all.

Their hair flicked differently with you in the background. Maybe you gave them confidence-a B12 shot to their White privilege.

We ceased speaking for some time because Mommy quit and I only knew you stopped by on Saturday mornings when the embers were still wrestling with themselves. The smoke gave it away and yet I never knew you to be one who told secrets because I wrote their names on paper and you singed them up for me in the kitchen sink.

You’re older now and we tend to meet when I’m lighting For Vivian or caught somewhere between a taste for an omelette or boiled lemon water. You’ve always been faithful and yet, I still know not how to show up in a way that reciprocates in our relationship. Turning you off feels one sided yet I’m sure you understand that the momentary exchange is to protect her from you until she is old enough to light you herself.

I found myself bewildered about you yesterday. You rummaged through investigation rooms and lounges filled with brown tables-the kind that chewing gum likes. You chased the ceiling to the floor and yelled down the hall for help to get to the roof. I envied how confident you were about traveling. I became jealous that you didn’t have to wear a mask. Then, I remembered how ethereal you were as you hugged the building and squeezed it tight.

I know you are angry and unforgiving. You were always the most relentless out of the two of us. I know you have the capacity to wreak unstoppable havoc, but before they water you down, can you do me a favor: burn their privilege in the process.

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