Social Death, an Address
I write to you from the predicament of Blackness.
You see, I’ve been here all my life and found,
on the atomic level, it’s impossible to walk through
most doorways. I can, however, move through
walls. I write to you from the empty seat that isn’t
empty. I write to you when a feel is copped.
I write myself out of bed. I write to you as the spook
who sat by the door. I write to you from Olivia
Pope’s apolitical mouth. I am here because I could
never get the hang of body death, though it has been
presented to me like one would offer a roofied cocktail
or high-interest loan. I am only here because I started
eating again. I am only here because I am ineligible
to exist otherwise. I’m only here because I left and
returned through an Atlantic wormhole. I write to you as
the American version of me. In the American version,
Orpheus’ lyre is a gun. Eurydice thinks of doctors,
or, rather a cold hand. It feels like one is sliding its sterile
nails over the curtains of her womb. Once, a healer’s hands
passed through my flesh, and I went on trial for stealing
ten fingers. When my spoon scrapes the bottom of a bowl
it sounds like a choir of siblings naming stars after their favorite
meals. Physicists are classifying new matters and energies
every day. Dark matter, Black flesh are in high demand,
and we never see a penny. I urge you. If you see a sister
walk through walls or survive the un-survivable, sip your
drink and learn to forget or love the taxed apparition before you.
From Hull (Nightboat Books, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Xan Phillips. Used with permission of Nightboat Books, nightboat.org.