Oh, the pain of remembering. As we passed the halfway point of the Inbreak Residency, I was confronted with the challenge of remembering. Verbalizing racial trauma, with the added stress of “high-performance tendencies” and subsequent burn-out, has been quite difficult for me. As I have been confronting these traumas and how they take presence in my body and energy, I find myself wanting to escape to a space of simplicity and peace.
As Inbreak artist, Andrew Nemr, posed, “Are we meant to metabolize hundreds of years of history?” While it is important to understand and properly address our generational histories, the vastness of untruth and gravity of dehumanizing actions cannot be fully comprehended in our present state of being.
The sins of humanity are many. I think of how Jesus bore the sin of the world on the cross. How he was not only rejected by humanity, but by the Father himself. How he endured physically and spiritually the weight of all evil, past, present, and future. He had to not only remember, but to live through it.
With this in mind, my poem, “Cyclical” leads to the question of “how long?” How long must I cycle into forgetfulness, numbness, and picked scab wounds? When will I get real relief from the chronic pain of remembering? I do not yet know, but scripture says the earth groans in labor pains until Christ’s return. God invites us to cast our burdens at his feet so we can enter green pastures.
a poem by Naomi Stewart
Past the halfway Past the half-full
Pour over my bitter coffee skin
Beauty in the breaking
Richness in your first sip
Taste on your lips and listen
I’m spotlit on a platform, like an open mic
Or self-made slave auction
My body aches either way
As my stifled exhale restricts my alto voice
And shower steam no longer loosens me
Thinking of the noose
No wonder I still have neck pain
Sometimes I’m paralyzed and my breath forgets
My body forgets
Mind numb and aimless
Evaporating and I wonder if this is it