freer than you

on the 243rd year of our nation’s independence
i am in a kayak underneath a fireworks show
bursting bombs in air for entertainment
my ‘wow’s turn into laughter stifled in an embrace
of booms bouncing from the hills to the forest and back
across the river settling into stillness flowing south

the black water lights up red and white and blue
someone plays “god bless america” from their boat
and i feel my throat tightening and my nose tingling
and i start to cry for beauty in the way
i cry at church even though i’m resentful and don’t believe
my shame the lie of freedom exposes is numb

a toddler cries alone on the floor of a detention center
they did not drown in the desperate crossing
their diaper has not been changed in days

a woman is desperate for a fix and angry
she beats her boyfriend’s chest enraged
he has lost his job and their skin is waking up

a black man puts his hands on the dashboard
keeps them in plain sight, hushes his daughter, wonders
what shade of racist the officer is behind him

humanization is freedom

i place my oar into the water and push it forward
fracturing the light beams with dark water
i tip back my gin and soda cocktail to get it all
and feel the waves kicked up by wakes
i wonder if it will be easy to get back to shore

how wonderful it would be
if we could all be this free



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