“When we were kids, summertime meant ‘swim because of the heat’. But since then, they’ve set the swimming hole ablaze, so now I don’t know what to do. Oh, Mom, haven’t you seen? The ocean is on fire.
Dad, can you see? It’s back to school season but we’re missing all the first day outfits behind the smoke of the forest fires & the gun fires. Last March April May, the shooters lost their time for target practice behind mask mandates. This March April May, their aim got better & their fathers have come to fear for their Blue Lives so much, they put the guns in their hands themselves.
Gramps, can you breathe? You planted a willow tree to be buried under when you were my age. You read Mom books there, I know that. Then you went to war and when you came home, the war came home and Mom went to that. I think it’s where she found Dad. Now the war is over but all of the fighting is right down the street. People like me fighting for people like you, Gramps and the land that you fought for for me. They won’t clean up the air or the water here. But they found the budget to move your tree. They’ve put a Starbucks where it was, Gramps. It’s on the corner of East & Greene.
My friends & I make up TikTok dances to remixed announcements that they’ve spotted UFOs. My elders have been trying to prepare me for the world they knew but I don’t think we live there anymore. Weren’t there turtles in it? There aren’t turtles in mine. I don’t know; from the stories I’ve been told, things have gotten very strange outside.
But I run under the white that falls from the sky – soot, ash, snow in Tampa, Florida. I fall to my knees next to the toppled Robert E. Lee statue and laugh. The grown-ups who are rushing to ‘get things back to normal’ can’t see how their normal was strange.
Grandma sometimes asks “what I wanna be when I grow up”. I tell her, “Around for whatever comes next!” Because she has no idea what that might be, no one does.
We get to create this world as we go.
Or till it goes – I think I have about 7 more years with it.
But so it goes.
And the last of us can only watch in wonder while our adults lose their words.
‘Strange days, strange times, strange world.’ they whisper. Meanwhile, the thunder in the sky & the neighboring countries’ bombs battle for volume control like my brother & I do on the couch. Is this all that strange though? Didn’t you hand make this moment yourselves?”
The author of these pieces goes both by the names Nubia and Tamir. He is a Black lesbian from New York who believes in, writes about and works for Black queer + trans liberation as well as children’s rights advocacy. When he’s not working, Tamir spends his free time studying astrology and diasporic traditions. His written work is meant to inspire conversation as well as provoke the reader’s view of themselves.
Illustration by C.B. Auder.
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