Finalist

Hard Times Require Furious Laughter

After Alice Walker

 Glory! Glory! Glory! when Breonna Taylor did not
walk back out of her apartment, i found refuge

in instagram thread of videos where Black people
are full of joy. come, let  me show you a sanctuary

made of deep dimples and gummed smiles.in the first video,
i remember the forgotten humanity in Blackness. i watch

two friends close their eyes with their faces the heavens;
hands clapping and holding bellies full of cackles. this thunder;

this roaring sound from barreled throats is the sound
of survival. it rises. it is the riot smoke bending from

our throats when George Floyd did not return home
from the corner store. it is sacred. it is church &

it ain’t even Sunday. i cannot tell you what they were
laughing at. i can tell you i watched it & a smile crept

on my face after so many days of crying.  by the third
video, i forgot we are in a pandemic. i forget I feel lonely

& that i was grieving how Dreasjon Reed did not
make it back to his car. i remember this chorus of giggles,

transforms.it is full.it is loud.it makes you feel seen
when the world makes you a shadow. an outline.

a background. it is a hymn. it is a shared childhood
memory even though we grew up in different households.

it is like a secret joke, a secret society, it is ours,
it is a gathering of spirit. it is the riot. laughter puts you

together when you find out McHale Rose does not
make back to his mama. it is baptismal. it is redemption.

it is grandma’s prayer. in the next video a girl shrieks,
a silent laugh works its way up, through her friend’s body.

in the last video someone laughs so hard they run & stomp
their feet. they make the ugliest faces, that hands-gripping-your-

stomach-with-tears-in-your-eyes-kind-of-laughter. their teeth
and gaps aaalllll out. mouth wide open; didn’t you know,
Black people laugh just as loud as we grieve?

 

 

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