reparations in the form of minutes by Mya Alexice

  Illustration by Dora O'Neill and Lily Ha

Illustration by Dora O'Neill and Lily Ha

You have spent centuries sewing
my worth into the seams of a dollar bill.

So forget the cash. can i have
time instead? First, the hours
spent melting my curls down
to dead lines of black.
Have you ever burned a part
of you so completely it dies?
Can you revive me, mouth to
mouth, white savior complex
finally coming in handy

And since I’m asking—
can the bullets rewind like
an old cassette? Suck themselves
out of the body, leaving a closing
hole behind. Or unfuneral
a child — put the flowers on
the grave bed back into
its mother ground? Give the
dirt back to its family? Give
the stone back to the mountain?

fine, keep the body.
it’s not the boy anyway.
give us back the time, though.
take it from the retirement fund
of the police officer or the
newsreel with the mug
shot or the twenty to life
unpaid labor for a gram
or my mother’s three jobs or
the therapy needed when
you keep watching dark
dead bodies on television or
or
or  

Wrap it in white cloth with holes for eyes.
Reparations do not come from nowhere
Give it to me from them.
Pack it with thick, bleached cotton.
White like a bloodless fingernail, like
a dying tree, like a tooth pulled too soon.
Use a sheriff star to cut the fiber
and the bilge of a ship for the meat.

If it happens to be
In the shape of a throne,
Do not eye the jewels sown
into its head. Do not lick its heel.
Put your forehead to the wet earth
and breathe in the primal black.
You must stay here for a while.
You have time
to serve.