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August 26, 2017

Pulse

by prophecy / How to Tattoo / 0 Comments



pulse

by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

(for the 50 in Orlando and beyond)

i was going to see you
i was going to dance
in the same place with you someday
i was going to pretend not to notice
how you and your friends smiled
when you saw me and my partner
trying to cumbia to bachata
but i was going to feel more free anyway
because you were smiling
and we were together
and you had your stomach out
and you felt beautiful in your sweat

i was going to smile when i walked by
i was going to hug you the first time
a friend of a friend introduced us
i was going to compliment your shoes
instead of writing you a love poem
i was going to smile every time i saw you
and struggle to remember your name

we were going to sing together
we were going to belt out Selena
i was going to mispronounce everything
except for amor
and ay ay ay
i was going to covet your confidence and your bracelet
i was going to be grateful for the sight of you
i was going scream YES!!! at nothing in particular
at everything especially
meaning you
meaning you beyond who i knew you to be

i was going to see you in hallways
and be too shy to say hello
you were going to come to the workshop
you were going to sign up for the workshop and not come
you were going to translate the webinar
even though my politics seemed out there

we were going to sign up for creating change the same day
and be reluctant about it for completely different reasons
we were going to watch the keynotes
and laugh at completely different times

i was going to hold your hand in a big activity
about the intimacy of strangers
about the strangeness of needing prayer
we were going to get the same automated voice message
when we complained that it was not what it should have been

we were going to be standing in the same line
for various overpriced drinks
during a shift change
i was going to breathe loudly so you would notice me
you were going to compliment my hair

it isn’t fair
because we were going to work
to beyonce and rihanna
and the rihanna’s and beyonce’s to come
and the beyonce’s and rihanna’s after that

we were going to not drink enough water
and stay out later than our immune systems could handle
we were going to sit in traffic in each others blindspots
listening to top 40 songs that trigger queer memories
just outside the scope of marketing predictions

we were going to get old and i was going to wonder
about the hint of a tattoo i could see under your sleeve
i was going to blink and just miss
the fought-for laughter lines around your liner-loved eyes

i was going to go out for my birthday
but i didn’t
and you did

we were going to be elders
just because we were still around
and i was going to listen to you on a panel
we didn’t feel qualified for
and hear you talk about your guilt
for still being alive
when so many of your friends were taken
by suicide
by AIDS
by racist police
and jealous ex-lovers
and poverty
and no access to healthcare
and how you had a stable job
you suffered at until the weekend
how you avoided the drama
and only went to the club at pride
and so here you were with no one to dance with anymore

i was going to see you and forget you
and only remember you in my hips
and how my smile came easier than clenching my teeth eventually
and how i finally learned whatever it is i still haven’t learned yet
i was going to hear you laugh and not know why
and not care

our ancestors fought for a future
and we were both going to be there
until we weren’t

and i don’t know if it would hurt more
to lose you later after knowing you
i don’t know if it would hurt more
to know you died on your own day
by your own hands
or any of the other systems
that stalk you and me and ours forever

i only know the pain that i am having
and that you are not here to share it
you are not here to bear it
you were going to pass me a candle at the next vigil

but now i am pulse

and now you
are flame.

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Original at Vimeo

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