by Claire Fort
My Daddy, Skipper, always said he was so fast he could switch off the light n jump into bed before the lights went out.
I inherited his belief that if you believe it, it’s true: I once ran a half marathon with two weeks of training, sheer will power and the belief that I could keep passing this person, and the next, and the next…
I often hear my mother’s voice cheering me on: “Go Clairey!” Some days she tricks me and appears when I’m gasping for air and I must pause, and like water for my soul she’s telling me Breathe. Focus.
Running while black be catcalls, trucks following me around the block, or cops slowing down, or speeding up.
Running while black means turning away from running down a suburban cul de sac.
Running while black be chills when you know a street isn’t safe, or a house, or a cop.
Running while black be like screaming, n dreaming n scheming for our souls.
Running while black means working while doing laps: figuring out what you’re going to say to your white boss, or crying to Oprah, or practicing August Wilson monologues.
Running while black means a mask isn’t protection but another alarm.
Running be mace and Dad’s advice: don’t run at dark, or too far, at night, come home
Running while black tastes like freedom but it has a different sound.
Running while black be believing: I AM FASTER THAN LIGHT.
Running while black be believing we’ll make it home before sundown.
Most evenings we be chasing down sunsets lit with murals in Bushwick, running laps around McCarren Track, Prospect Park, in any city or town in America.
We are black and we are running.
You cannot have our sunsets, when evening shines down on the American dream: a mirage so crystal clear we almost believe it is ours.
You cannot catch us.
We are faster than light.
I swear to you, last night, I turned off the lights and jumped into the bed before the lights went out.