I grieve forced laughter, shrieks sharp as broken
champagne flutes and the bright white necks I wanted
to press the shards against. I grieve the dead bird of my right
hand on my chest, the air escaping my throat’s prison,
the scream mangled into a mere “ha!” I grieve unearned
exclamations. I grieve saying “you are so funny!” I grieve
saying “you’re killing me!” when I meant to say “you are
killing me.” I have died right in front of you so many times;
my ghost is my plus-one tonight. I grieve being your Black
confidante. I grieve being your best and your only. I grieve
“But you get it, right?” Right. I grieve that I got it
and I get it and I am it.
From Alive At the End of the World (Coffee House Press, 2022) Copyright © 2022 by Saeed Jones. Reprinted with the permission of Coffee House Press.