The story starts with the falling of cold embers from the sky.
Everything I once loved falls as ashes on my skin.
I lie on a bed of flames and my body ignites.
This was how we began a conversation with God.
I sit. Like an observer—soundproof & numb with oblivion.
Something crawls out of my throat.
Black smoke wriggling around the body of a beautiful boy.
Every line in this poem ends with a period.
& that implies that there's no breaking point.
Dear brother, hold your breath till you run out of music.
Our breath smells like the last elegy we heard our mothers sing.
& that was after colonization.
That was after we learned to spell slavery without vowels.
To prove how meaningless it was.
That was after we learned to count in tally marks, every man who was exiled.
That was after our brothers learned about the Pentecost.
After they learned to pray in unknown tongues to attract the glory of God.
And after I practiced to stream my fricatives with a similar cacophony.
To modify my tongue until God found it worthy of an answer.
I know our mothers also prayed.
They prayed for ships to wreck.
They prayed for rubber skins, that could take so much suffering & still not break.
They prayed for their husbands & sons to return.
They prayed & prayed.
& still prayed to be heard.
Dear brother, do you know what it means to breathe & yet, be breathless?
To be the story & yet, the metaphor.