SPEAK

Where is there a hand to hold?

A shoulder to press my own shoulder into – to show my support?

No, no this whole conversation is not about my own heartache. I do not need the comfort of those whose hearts are broken to heal my own hurt.

But how to rightly express it – that my breath is tight

that my eyes prick and spill with tears

that my mind swirls with grief?

And maybe you do not need to know about it – my heart ache – or maybe you do.

Do you need pledges? Promises of solidarity? How empty do pledges feel to you right now?

When I faced my own hell,

When I opened my own mouth about the abuses I had run from

that I knew I would die from

if I stayed still

if I stayed quiet

if I stayed

the words were so often met with words, more words, words that felt like fists

crumpling up my heartbreak

and shoving it right back down my throat.

So I did not know what to do with my words.

I’ve kept them

I’ve tried, on occasion, to line them up in neat rows

for the hurting.

And I have looked up.

Looked up from my own hurt to see –

who else?

Who have I been blind to, stuck in my own sunrise-to-sunset everyday life?

Who have I ignored?

You do not need my permission to speak up, no. Oh, no.

But will you hear my pleading?

Speak

Speak

Speak

Tell me your story

And I will set my own stories aside

As we should all set our own stories aside

long enough to listen

in order to love

our neighbor.

Will you join me in listening? Here are some of the voices I am gathering around me as I try my best to learn, and to unlearn. Who are you finding? Share with me.

Andre Henry

Austin Channing Brown

Jo Saxton

Propaganda

Lisa Sharon Harper

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