Poem: Good Grief

Good Grief
–KB Brookins

after the 2021 Texas Win­ter Storm

I’ll admit that I’ve nev­er thought about frostbite.

Trau­ma of the blood, a thing to be avoid­ed when heat goes out for an entire state.

I don’t know where to place this grief, this swel­ter­ing state freez­ing, politi­cians breez­ing over to a coun­try that doesn’t have tis­sue choked out by its win­ter yet.

The sky can only do what it does.

The Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment can only do what sys­tems dri­ven by green paper, vio­lence & ache can do.

The trees bloom over dead bod­ies, missing.

The sound of hands rub­bing, engines purring, hopes that gas lights or chaf­ing or the rap­ture won’t come first may quiver in my blood forever.

I am Black but maybe I am doomed.

Mem­o­ry flash­es like a com­put­er screen; I see the zoom link expand. Col­leagues process what­ev­er fail­ure num­ber of a thou­sand this was this year and I can only remem­ber white.

Six inch­es deep, sunken into my boots all over.

The time­line of friends strand­ed, impend­ing doom of elec­tric­i­ty shut­ting off, water pres­sure slip­ping into noth­ing every hour, pipes burst­ing on top of all that white.

I haven’t recov­ered from see­ing things that too-close­ly resem­ble holes in a graveyard. 

I haven’t for­got­ten the project is due in 2 weeks.

My ther­a­pist says take it easy as if cap­i­tal­ism is lis­ten­ing. As if the body will ever for­get what it is given.

I am Black which is his­to­ry, personified.

I used to lis­ten to Pilot Jones fond­ly. With all this frost­bite on my fin­gers, I’m not sure if I can type.

I can­not fin­ish anoth­er sen­tence on unity.

What is uni­fied about ERCOT let­ting us freeze? Know­ing how to fix the prob­lem & not doing it; how does that form a Kum­baya circle?

If I made art about every pain I’ve felt unjust­ly, I would be swim­ming in acco­lades for great Amer­i­can books.

I would take back every word I’ve writ­ten if it end­ed this.

Amer­i­ca is the worst group project.

I’m writ­ing a great Amer­i­can poem about suffering.

How much is going with­out food that isn’t canned for a week worth?

The absence of snow feels like betray­al. My mem­o­ry mix­es with Amer­i­can delusion. 

I can’t believe half the things that I’ve been through.

Ice cold, baby, I told you; I’m ice cold.

Who said it first, Frank Ocean or Christo­pher Columbus?

I’ve nev­er been taught how to ade­quate­ly mourn the nights spent bitch­ing about a brisk wind; the night we almost got strand­ed try­ing to get to J before the cold swal­lowed them whole.

I want to give every­thing I’ve been hand­ed a good cry. Red skin & chapped lips deserve it. 

Good grief, what has Texas done to me.

An arti­cle fea­tures a per­son walk­ing past tents near I‑35.

I can’t cry about the body but I feel it.

A high­way splits a nation from its promise to be one.

Every­thing feels blur­ry and the palm trees have died.

Every­thing trans­port­ed here with­ers away eventually.

6 months lat­er and I haven’t been able to shov­el out my sadness.

A news report said that it’s safe to go back to work. & I lis­ten, because what else can you do in 6 inch­es of white.

The snow melt­ed and I still feel frostbitten.

There are no heroes in a freeze-frame chang­ing nothing.

I pose begrudg­ing­ly. Say cheese & then write this.

I’m not a sur­vivor; just still breathing.

I remem­ber grief, love’s grand finale.

What else do we have if not the mem­o­ry of life before this?

I can­not tell you how many lives I’ve lost to mourn­ing, but I can tell you that the sky does what it does.

Let’s go for a walk & touch the trees that sur­vived like us.

Let’s write a future more joy­ful & less inevitable in seg­ments of leaves.

Any­thing we dream will be bet­ter than this.

Cyn is Katie's mom, Esther's Mémé, and a Support Engineer. She lives in the Atlanta area with her life partner, Rick, and their critters. She knits, does counted-thread needlework, reads, makes music, plays TTRPGs, and spends too much time online.
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