Reading Ordinary Notes: Note 15

A note arrives unbidden and without apology

Christina Sharpe, Ordinary Notes

I have been thinking about Lucille Clifton’s poem: 

they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering

I have been thinking about how people remember, what they insist is the shared story. About—and I’m sorry to detour from Christina—a boy who was cruel to me. I suspect he would not describe himself as cruel. And then, one day, after we’d finished school, I saw him in a gay club. With a Black man. He’d been cruel in that way homophobic people are cruel. Cruel in that way people who pass as not gay can be cruel to those who wear pins and carry flags and flame—all things I did, to try to live, to try to survive, to try to make space where I could breathe—are cruel.

And I wonder, now, what he would remember.

A note arrives: “I know we had our own adolescent issues many years ago.” How cruelty is dismissed. Overwritten as a childish affair. As though wounds do not create scars, even on children’s bodies.

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