I’ll Heal at Night (When You Can’t See Me)

Bret Hairston

I’ll heal at night when you can’t see me

I’ll break to pieces during the day
Under your gaze
Demanding

I’ll run away
I’ll steal myself away
From you
Like my great aunts used to

Here, have a little snippet
Take a small shard
Plant it in your fields
Like your ancestors used to

Reach out and within myself
Reach in and away to you
I can take it all back and
Leave your shit barren as fuck
Barren as that soul of yours

Every blade of grass from that crop
Every grain of wheat or barley
All of the water that pours from the skies
It’ll smile on the stolen soil
That is my skin

These eyes that roll all around me
Will break me in broad daylight
But I will become like
Ghostly whispers
Delusions of wholeness

Under the cover of the moon,
I will leave your sight.
Under the shadows of your gaze,
I will heal at night.

Note: In place of an essay, this poem serves as an explanation for the project. Inspired by photographers such as Melissa Alcena, Tia-Simone Garner, and written work by Teju Cole, I’ll Heal at Night (When You Can’t See Me) is a multi-media project using photos and words to meditate on what it means to heal for Black womanised subjects.

Bret Hairston is a photographer, writer, editor, and storyteller. Building off of what they title “a Midwestern Black magical hoodoo tradition”, his work often explores the connections between environment, Black folks, and spirituality.

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