I need a bedtime story, the stars are too far tonight; the night has made my window a mirror. There I am: brown eyes, buzzed sideburns, cinched tie above cinched breasts—a story between spaces.
You, too, grown from the spaces between the story you told and the lived one. Freedom for you and you, but not you. Liberty, for you, but never for you. Susan Griffin wrote: “The stories we tell ourselves, particularly the silent or barely audible ones, are very powerful. They become invisible enclosures.”
Hush little baby don’t say a word….
I hear the sweet alto voice of Grandma Libby reassuring me 40 years ago. I can nearly feel the lavender cloth of sleep when the mind slipped into a space away from the body. How space seems to become the story.
I want to write this letter like an exhalation; no beginning or end if it is still alive. (The rub between still and alive.)
I think that once I was whole. I don’t believe this is your story.
My aunt in rural Ohio asked, “What’s so different from Obama that everyone is so upset now?” I said transpeople’s suicides, I said Muslim registry, I said stop and frisk, I said law and order, I said encrypted email, I said my Mexican student’s colleague telling her to go home, I said a wall, I said that Anastacia Renee Tolbert, a black poet, read “hide your babies, hide your babies, hide your babies.”
Mama’s gonna’ buy you a mockingbird….
And if that bird doesn’t sing, then she’ll buy you a ring, then she’ll buy you a looking glass, a billy goat, a cart and bull, a dog named Rover and a horse and cart. This is an American song—your song.
Privilege is an insulation. “Rooms with no air,” Griffin adds.
Charles Eisenstein suggests that, “we as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt.” This is true for white people who weren’t awake. My friends of color simply feel the intensity of the burn.
In the bedtime story, the baby is told to hush. Your little American babies. What will we do in this space between the story we knew last week and the one before us? There’s a countdown to Trump’s inauguration that I believe empowers his imagination. Let’s turn it off. Do not hush. You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.
Ever Jones (formerly JM Miller) is a trans-identified writer living on an island near Seattle. Their debut collection of poetry, Wilderness Lessons, explores the relationship between identity and nature. They teach poetry and creative nonfiction at the University of Washington Tacoma.
Header photo of U.S. flag at night by skeeze, courtesy Pixabay.