BRAIDS, Barbara Ruth

by Barbara Ruth

if it hadn’t been almost Thanksgiving
if Akai’s Mom hadn’t loved his manbraids so much
if the best stylist he knew didn’t live in the worst housing project in NYC
if Kimberly had taken a bit more time zigzaging Akai’s cornrows 
if they’d started on plaiting earlier
if he’d come for his cornrows the next night
if Kimberly and Akai had decided to go out and show off his braids an hour later
if the elevator at Louis F. Pink House #1 hadn’t been broken
if the busted out lightbulbs in the stairwell of the eighth floor had been replaced
if two rookie officers hadn’t disobeyed orders and begun a vertical search of the building 
if the Glock had stayed in the holster
if the bullet hadn’t ricocheted off the cement wall to strike below Akai’s beautiful braids
if either policeman had 
	called 911
	performed CPR
	done something besides argue then text their Union reps
Akai Gurley might have lived to be 30
before some cop got away with
murdering him
Barbara Ruth was raised by parents who did their best to pass as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. This has complicated her relationship to her Ashkenazi Jewish and Potowatomee bloodlines and also placed passing as a central issue which she dances with in this incarnation. She is neurodivergent, old, lesbian, physically disabled, and unable to find housing. She remembers finding the concept of synchronicity in the writings of Jung 50 years ago. In another 50 years she will have much more to say about it.

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