Braids 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.