The Check In
They call. They message.
Then the occasional tag on social media.
I am wanting to check in on you… We
are thinking of you… I am so so sorry…
Then there I go
again pounding my head
sifting through thick
scattering names on a dusty floor
It is morning. It is the afternoon, maybe
the middle of some God-awful hour. I was
calm. I was hunkered low, shades drawn
maybe sipping a tea
should see me pacing kitchen
grabbing at lint or shaking my wrist
in the mirror
don’t remind me there are soldiers
tramping on my lawn with gas
and pepper spray.
I’ve just laid the sheets tight in my bed.
I’ve just trimmed the plants.
And you are so white
and fragile with your checking. You are so late
so late so late.
Copyright © 2020 by Nandi Comer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 4, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I wrote ‘The Check In’ as a response to a strange phenomenon I was noticing during the pandemic. After the murder of George Floyd and the uprisings that followed, I and other Black friends began receiving calls, texts, and emails from white people that weren’t necessarily close friends. Their attempts to connect with me really felt as if they were seeking an explanation or comfort for their own anxieties. Isn’t it always the case that Black people end up caring for white fragility? For me these messages felt like another kind of violence to endure. They made me anxious. I could not answer them, so I wrote this reply.”
Date Published: 2020-09-04
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/check