This is not a Tweet: Nothing to See Here Move Along. (Thank you Heavy)


Kiese Laymon Heavy book cover Alice Walkers Garden

This Is Not a Tweet:  Nothing To See: Move Along.
© 2019 by Alice Walker
Lucky are those whose hearts are broken
Regularly.  So many cracks appear it is unlikely
No light will come streaming through.* With time
One becomes almost immune
To the pain.  But not quite.  And that is
The important thing.

All those things you thought you’d help fix!
All those things you thought you understood!
All that pain you thought was over, anyway!

Then you have new pain that makes you relive
The agony already outgrown.  Or so you had thought.

Heavy by Kiese Laymon brings awareness that the work of liberation done in Jackson, Mississippi long before young Laymon’s birth, was ultimately not done, or was not done well enough.  Or was perhaps impossible to do.  Which I sometimes felt was true.

The suffering of his childhood!

Seven years we spent* dreaming a childhood for him, for all black children (and ultimately white ones too, in that state) that would have a foundation not just in a first rate education but in an intimacy with joy.  Didn’t happen, as his harshly honest memoir attests. And what of his mother? Caught between the needs of creativity, love, mothering, pushing the race forward, and surviving in a land where not one of us was safe. Her desperation, fear of falling backward, dread that her only son might become another Emmett Till.

Did we fail you, Beautiful Son, because we did not fight long enough, there where you were born?  Did not love strongly enough? Did not die from bullets and bombs, broken hearts, depression and soul wounds sufficiently enough?

But you have come through, anyway.  So did we fail completely?

In you I see the soul of black folk.  As DuBois thought we might. Now that your inner mirror is clear, I know you see this too.

There is a purpose to all this suffering. In fact, as an elder, I can begin to see suffering as a birth.

A birth of soul. A growth of it.

Now the old hymns and spirituals begin to make sense, though most need liberating from a context

They have outgrown.

Thank you for HEAVY.

Thinking of your journey, Beloved Son,
(so harsh I nearly stopped reading after a hundred pages!) I am reminded of my sense, since birth, apparently, that we are on a journey that has no end. That after so much suffering perhaps we will have many days in the sun, as a flower. Then, who knows, refreshed by wind and rain, we might begin again: sensing more, enduring more, learning more of the essence of Life Itself because the experience of ever expanding consciousness is the true unending endeavor of this realm.


*Leonard Cohen, a soul mate, wrote a song about this.

*My civil rights lawyer husband, Mel Leventhal, and myself, busily being “ friends” to the children of Mississippi. 1966-1973.