What’s It Like Escaping Something Trying to Kill You?

What It’s Like Escaping Something Trying to Kill You? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Close-up of the cover of a 1950 copy of The Green Book, a travel guide published between 1936 and 1966 that listed places where Black travelers would be welcome. Public Domain.

A minister blames this on the slaughter of unborn children. We enter a tunnel, and my breath

holds itself for comfort. My father suggests we find a copy of The Green Book and pray over

it. A car full of black people driving past confederate statues. A strawberry zooms past my left

ear. The wind smashes it against the bark of cedar. A fish drowns itself in the Mississippi. The

one-eyed tabby is not allowed in the hotel. She too will float, but in a different city. Three Ritz

crackers on a paper plate. There was a bush separating the hotel from a supermarket. The

president tries to separate himself from responsibility, but we see him too. Put those back.

You’re not wearing hand-me-down underwear. I eat lifted grapes. You call it stealing, adults

call it building credit. Don’t you know I don’t know where we are? What to do in a country that

never wanted me here? Did you hear the one about God? I am blamed for laughing the hotel

room into an awkward silence. My aunt sleeps, deaf as hands in the dark. Two hurricanes in

the same week? Such sororal horror.