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By SA Smythe
some call it a comeback
i just got back & already feel the need to time travel again.
not the way that some white folks fetishise
its possibilities: the chance to touch everything,
say they were there,
spread their imperiousness
across multiple dimensions.
what even is whiteness
if not the ultimate butterfly effect?
except all the butterflies are undead
actually, emaciated moths
& made of stone;
wherever they land, it’s yours
yours whose flesh they infect & turn inside out,
you who they made believe the world
was nothing but monarchs.
i don’t need that kind of time travel.
never wanted to be blue, or a fifth element,
or to have a ridged forehead
using memorised militarised hand gestures
or even wear comically long scarves
while whizzing around alone for centuries in a telephone box.
i want to do it the kindred way,
dizzying along my own time stream,
wrenched sideways from oblivion
back to 2012 so i could say no
& never know the treachery of hwy 17
or the genders i left there
back to 26 december 2010 so i could say something
like let go
but don’t let go, i love—
& maybe, does it hurt?
i want back to september 2001 to may 1965
back to 15 april 1989 august 1962
to december 1948 to september 1984
some shit like that. (there’s the fetish,
i knew it would come.) i want then,
congealing right there in the 60s
so i could tell my father
to get off that plane. i’d say,
turn back around not-yet-daddy,
tell him how things are better in limòn
how it’s hard but you’ll miss yourself in the end
how they’ll do their best to break you
so let’s just stay in the fields. we can build here
i said, as my hands are becoming apparitions.
i would have reappeared, embraced
in the shadows of the broad welsh beech trees
in the middle of whispering to my mother
how she doesn’t need to stay.
remember that, i plead, while i’m there
under her childhood bed
materialising at night once the candles go out,
preparing her for a life of letting go by teaching her all our undoing.
i will have gone, sweating panting racing
through throngs of dark young men
in wide-brimmed hats & too-long neckties
queued up along the kingston docks,
want to thrust myself
into my un-grandfather’s arms in june of 1948,
& beg him not to do it.
get the fuck off the boat, Mas Wilmott,
don’t do this to us, the future
is always already here. & we want
will have wanted would be wanting that now,
i did say or will have said then, but i’m stuck.
& i’m just not so sure anymore.
i can see those flight attendants calling up security
as my father kisses abuela & tia maria
& steps on the plane, i feel the windrush men
brushing me off my grandfather because i’m debris,
but i show them then. i leave an imprint
of tears & snot & blood—nailbeds still bleeding—
like the shroud of turin on his sunday best
can see madge shooing me out of my mum’s house,
& i’m rabidly clawing at the floor
as they pull me by my legs out from under the bed.
it was always like that, always bringing me back here.
like a moth to a flame or headfirst to the moon
unable to save us or the others
waiting to undo myself again.
SA Smythe is a Black trans/genderqueer writer currently living between London and LA, constantly scheming up new ways for us to get free. SA is the publishing editor for THEM – Trans Literary Journal and associate editor for Scarf Magazine. They have poetry published (and/or work forthcoming) in phren-Z, the nines, Johannesburg Salon, Strike!, Critical Contemporary Journal, okayafrica, and elsewhere. SA does translation work in six languages and organises in Black queer and trans abolitionist writing collectives around the world. They are currently working on a monograph about Blackness and disposession in the Mediterranean and their second poetry collection, after hiraeth, tentatively titled proclivity / but do you have reparations money? Follow them on Twitter @essaysmythe.
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