He took his body very seriously,
always ran and had pride
in everything he did.
– Ahmaud Arbery’s father to ABC News
Today I braided my hair.
Massaged the pads
of my fingers with each slide
down these textured strands.
Today I also took a bath
of bubbles and Epsom salts,
lit candles that created a wild glow
on my skin each time I lifted my leg
and watched the bubbles jazz
their way back to the water.
Today I listened
to Billie Holiday ask a willow tree
to weep on her behalf
and wished nature worked that way,
wished a gardenia could cover
some of my mistakes.
Also today I drank a cup of tea—earl grey.
I read Wanda Coleman poetry,
counted how many
bottles of water I consumed.
I ran a few miles
in bright clothes.
I have cried for trees before,
but I never thought to ask one
to drop its leaves for me.
Today I stopped by the sugar maple
before untying my running shoes.
I know you don’t have weeping in your name, I said,
but perhaps you might at least tremble.
I sat on one of its roots today.
I repeated names many of us now know to say,
and we both shook—the maple and me.
I pulled loudly on oxygen.
She let me sit there. Breathing.