All he wanted to do was surprise you; he had this idea of coming home early and cooking you a nice dinner—although, realistically, he knew he would end up ordering out—spending an evening together before ending the day the best way you knew how.
Of course, things rarely ever worked out for Rafael Barba.
i am harriet tubman’s shot gun,
the knife under sally heming’s pillow,
i am phillis wheatley breaking the law to read,
to write poems.
i was property,
i jumped the broom
and it meant nothing,
i am the slave women experimented on without anesthesia
for the sake of gynecology,
i am the dichotomy between
a field and a house slave,
i am the 3 pints of unsifted
cornmeal and a cup of sour milk a day
i spent all day cooking, but im still starving.
the weight of mistress’s eyes lay heavy on my hands.
i am beaten for burnt bread,
beaten for sneaking a biscuit into my pocket,
beaten for looking too white.
i sleep in the big house to wait on mistress day and night,
i sleep in the big house.
but at night, when she goes to sleep,
i want to die.
i can nail my door shut each night,
but every time he’ll splash in still,
like champagne popped at the engagement party
of racism and sexual brutality,
i watch as the wallpaper peels off the walls in shame,
as the curtains draw themselves,
as everything in this big house pretends
my screams are silent,
until my no is a sob.
but no is a right that i do not have.
so my no becomes my silence.
i am silence.
with an unwanted mixed baby
when mistress orders the skin
peeled from my back for the crime of surviving.
i am tituba, the 17th century slave woman
accused of witchcraft,
beaten until she confessed,
i am her confession that sparked the salem witch trials…
or black girl magic if you will,
i am marie laveau, voodoo queen of new orleans,
secrets stirring while the gumbo simmers.
i am sojourner truth, and aint I a woman?
i am madam CJ Walker’s hotcomb smoking,
calling out 19th century gender roles and double standards,
turning the beauty shop into a place for the revolution.
i am shirley chisolm’s hammer cracking
the ceiling that feels more like concrete
than glass for womyn of color.
i am ruby bridge’s lunchbox,
the refusal on claudette colvin’s tongue at fifteen
as she refused to give up her seat, before rosa.
i am the swell of her belly at sixteen
as she wasn’t respectable enough
to mobilize behind anymore,
but i am still the no, bitter and fierce,
resting on rosa’s tired tongue.
i am the fight against the civil rights movement’s
rape culture in 1965,
i am dorothy heights, complicating the revolution
with all my intersections, told to pick one label or none at all.
i am dorothy counts, spit on and thrown garbage at
for integrating a high school.
met with a riot, armed with a notebook.
i am daisy bates and the little rock nine,
the steel in mamie mobley till’s spine,
open casket grief transfigured to activism.
i am bessie coleman’s flight,
corretta scott’s fight
nina simone’s microphone,
josephine baker’s banana miniskirt,
the afro pick in angela davis’ clenched black power fist.
i am audrey lorde’s secret poetry,
alice walker coloring everything purple,
i am ella baker sitting in,
diane nash riding for freedom.
i am fannie lou hamer’s backbone,
sick and tired of being sick and tired.
i am a brick in the palm of marsha p johnson,
i am gabby douglas’ first gold,
mae jemison’s space helmet,
misty copeland’s firebird.
i am simone biles as the reigning queen of gymnastics
i am dorothy dandridge’s academy award winning smile.
i am dorothy, dipping her toe into the hotel pool
only to watch staff drain every last drop out of that pool,
only now i am simone manuels, swimming my way into history.
i am the caged bird still singing for maya angelou,
and this is who i come from.
The One Where Connor is NOT Drunk and Neither is Wes
Connor Walsh does not get drunk. He always knows how to have just enough to appear like he’s having a good time (and sometimes he actually does), but he never ever gets drunk.
That said, Connor Walsh is very drunk right now.
He had decided to accompany Michaela, Asher and Laurel for a night out in Old City. Just a few drinks, but it was purely strategic and they all knew it. Sizing up the competition. Somehow Wes had ended up tagging along (Connor suspects Laurel invited him out of pity) and he suggested this great bar he knew in China town not too far away and all Connor remembers after that is being super grossed out by the fish tank full of live eels out front and the way Wes had grabbed his arm and dragged him along to follow the others to their table in the back.
“Why are you here?” Connor can hear himself slurring, but he can’t seem to stop the words from coming out anyway. Wes does that thing he does sometimes where he cocks his head to the side and blinks owlishly. Not that Connor had been paying attention or anything, just, it was annoying.
“You mean here, as in this bar here, or here in Philadelphia?”
“Law school. Why are you in Law School?”
Wes bit his lip thinking for a moment, before grinning and saying, “I want to be a lawyer.” His smile seemed innocent, but Connor wasn’t drunk enough not to be able to tell there was more to that story.. He decided not to push, sighing and running his hands through his already messy hair. His hair never got messy. He was really drunk.
“You want some water?” Wes asked him, still wearing that stupid earnest grin.
Connor coughs and sits up straighter, “No, I’m fine.” He really is, the alcohol may have slowed his brain to mouth filter a but, but his brain was still going on all cylinders, always going.
“You sure? I’m gonna get you a water.”
Connor huffs, “Fine, whatever.”
Wes gets up and makes his way over to the bar, and Connor does not take a moment to appreciate how his slim hips move gracefully through the crowd of people, or the strong lines of his back and he props himself up over the bar to flag down a bartender.
“Dude, quit staring.” Asher speaks up. Apparently he has lost his ability to be subtle.
“Huh? I’m not staring.” Connor rebukes quickly dropping his gaze. He glances over to Michaela who just has a knowing smirk, and Laurel just smiling sweetly at him. “Whatever.” he says jutting out his chin, not looking at any of them. He can feel them collectively judging him before they slip back into their former conversation.
Wes eventually strides back over to their table with a bottle of mineral water for Connor. He places it in front of him and plops down gracelessly in his seat beside him. Connor mutters a thanks before opening it and taking a few sips.
When he sets the bottle down he notices Wes staring at him, wide happy grin on his face, and maybe Wes is a little drunk too, because he says, “You’re really cute.” It’s barely above a whisper, just meant for the two of them. He continues, “Well when you’re drunk anyway, less of an asshole this way.” And it should sound mean, Connor should be offended, but he looks at the open expression on Wes’ face and can’t help returning his grin with a small one of his own.
“I’m an asshole am I?”
“Very much so.” Wes replies, still smiling as he reaches down to where Connor didn’t realize he was fisting the fabric of his pants in a white knuckle grip. Wes wiggles his slim fingers in between Connors and laces their fingers together, Smile not wavering, but a slight flush appearing on his cheeks.
Connor just raises an eyebrow at him and smirks as he squeezes Wes’ hand back and dives back in to the conversation about the latest case Professor Keating has them working on.