In The Aftermath

BY CJ SUITT

In The Aftermath is a poem written and performed by Chapel Hill Poet Laureate CJ Suitt. This work was prompted by the current times and hopes to recognize community, nostalgia, and hope for the future.

In The Aftermath

In the aftermath
I’m sure I’ll feel like a tourist
passing through my own life
I’ll add up my subtractions
Stand in the great divide
Multiplying the things I have left 

In the aftermath of all this
I’ll sing with you
In a choir stand
On street corners and at my favorite karaoke night
Stroll aimlessly around the mall
Even though I hated the mall
We’ll brush shoulders and walk down the same aisles 

I’ll make you a meal
I’ll never leave the party early
Without a really good excuse
And we’ll dance
Bump and grind
Spin and dip
I’ll give you a spoon full of my ice cream
Let you try my beer
A fork full of my favorite dessert
Pass homemade dishes around a full potluck dinner table
We’ll have hugs so close and tight
The world will burst into giggles 

I’ll hold my friend’s children
Kiss the foreheads of my nieces and nephews
I’ll bump your hand as we walk down the sidewalk
We’ll hold hands without guilt
You won’t have to look for the smile in my eyes
Above my mask
We’ll get a window seat
As we watch friends and lovers gather
On lawns and in courtyards 

I’ll remember the things that brought me strength
The ways I gave and was given to
How I learned to pause
And breathe in the day
How I made a feast of my feelings
And served it up
poem after poem
Seeing myself
both seed and tree

The world will see me in full color
Black and American
A resilient ancestry
We’ll hold our leaders and officers
Accountable
Won’t be so well adjusted to injustice
And allow suffering to speak
We will get to work
And heal together 

In the aftermath
I’ll reach into my pocket
For a letter from my past self
That reads
“I
Will be
Here for you
Yes always and forever
Even when the world stops
When the cards have all folded
And you are in between the lines”

Learn More about the Chapel Hill Poet Laureate Program