My mother shouts into the void,
into the constellation of Facebook comments
underneath Stephen Colbert’s
gun control video. And the void shouts back
about how she values the rights
of gun owners over people’s lives. I take
strange comfort in the shouting.
We’ve long stopped having the conversations.
I stumbled across Colbert
by accident. Her name highlighted at the top
of the comments. I had made my account
private and unfollowed her after she wrote on my wall
that Trayvon Martin’s death was his own
fault. I couldn’t sleep that night. Seeing Trayvon’s
upturned sneakers in the grass. My students
in school uniform hoodies imprinted in my eyelids.
After she had already accused me
of exaggerating school conditions as I walked down
dark hallways and stared at plywood
all day with a heavy jacket on. After she and my aunt
passed around memes calling Obama
the food stamp president. She could only see
pictures of trips and birthday
messages. I hear people talking about putting aside
differences and just getting along.
About both sides and not being so divided, but I’m past that.
I’m moving further and further out
of orbit. Because basic human rights and dignity are not
up for grabs. I’ve said my piece
and built a family reputation. Always thinking the problem
was me. That I wasn’t trying
hard enough, that the right statistics and studies and personal
experiences would convince.
But, my Evangelical impulses aren’t there anymore.
People believe what they want
to believe and no amount of reasons—speech turned
to shouting—can change that.
No shouting turned to silence. No silence turned to
stumbling onto videos of your mother
and strangers shouting because you’re never around.
Afraid that you are like her
shouting through constellations at strangers, alone.
Abigail Carl-Klassen has been published in ZYZZYVA, Cimarron Review, Guernica, Aster(ix)
Photo by William Bayreuther.