BARE / by Megan Hollingsworth

I want to go naked in this screaming dream.
The chance to slip on a forgotten cupcake
falling to grace in your careful watch.
And there I stood before you lying down,
two women so close too far.

One still. One moving. 
Fast forward.

One black. One white. 
Meeting.

In the twitch of light at the corner 
where God wrapped you in a heavy bag
daylight fading on a cart full with cracker boxes.

Some clothes.

Would you like an apple?

I have apples, thank you.
Have any to spare for juice or soda later on?

I did not speak the no… 
that tilted my head 

Be careful of cupcake wrappers, I said

Together we looked back at the mess.
You lowered your head, closed eyes to rest so I could walk on in the shadow.
I am alone too and aren’t we all then
as we crisscross this crowded vacant street, 
stripped of ourselves. 

And 

What about 

My 

Need 

Down the road alone in the empty kitchen,

Where I felt safe, kneeling



BARE is written of an exchange at the corner of Martin Luther King Junior Way and University Avenue in Berkeley, California autumn 2013. I slipped on a discarded mushy cupcake wrapper and almost fell just as I exited Trader Joe's food market. As I caught my balance, my eyes met the eyes of a woman lying on the sidewalk in a heavy sleeping bag. We said this much. 

At the time, I was without income and family support. My mind was challenged with visceral stress of alienation, uncertain food and shelter. 

A few days after the exchange at the corner, I sat positioned toward the center of a group of white women on the living room floor of a home on top of a hill in Mill Valley. The contrast of the settings was comparable to the difference in the color of my skin and the skin of the woman lying on the sidewalk. And sitting in that circle I felt as familiar to the woman in Berkeley. Our exchange had been equally distant, though my financial circumstance closer while waking to a novel reality. I was, as she, vulnerable as the child.

This child-like vulnerability coupled with fierce independence and determination to live by my own sense of justice, carried on into 2014 after producing VIRGIN. By Summer 2014, when VIRGIN was released, I was very much isolated. And that isolation proved to determine the course of my healing process from early childhood sexual abuse and neglect.

Meeting back to back the isolating extremes of financial wealth reminds me that the distance between them, as the distance between me and them, is created by focusing attention on difference rather than likeness. Likeness ultimately being the unifying breath of life carried by water.

I didn't ask, so I'm clueless as to what happenings led the woman to lay down her body on the corner of Martin Luther King Junior Way and University Avenue in Berkeley. Had I asked and been told, I would still have a mere glimpse of the whole story. And though I have a story about what led me to be at the corner in stark yet generous circumstances, that story is equally a snapshot in a whole frame of interactions I do not and will not ever see. 

When community exists, everyone may go without at some point, yet no one is left out in the cold.

I can say this about reason. My stark yet comfortable circumstances were ultimately driven by an extreme discomfort living extravagantly as others go without food and shelter, while more are murdered, enslaved, and evacuated to serve my indulgence. That some enjoy greater material wealth than others is little concern so long as no one is exploited and everyone enjoys plenty.  Until then, I am the voice of rapture in a ruptured body - Peace walking restless.

* * *

See:

Dr. A. Breeze Harper: Uprooting White Fragility

An Overreaction: Words On #BlackLivesMatter And MLK

Blessed Unrest: How the largest movement in the world came into being AND why no one saw it coming by Paul Hawken

Bridge the Gap - on species privilege, race and sex-based entitlement, and narcissism

What White America Fails to See