That One Harsh December

By Abaki Beck

*Trigger warning: Descriptions of violence

when his throat was slit
who was surprised?
I was surprised
not by the violence or the night-call from my auntie
but by his name.
I hadn’t seen him since middle school
I heard he started doing meth and when I hadn’t seen him
for such a long time
I assumed he was dead.

when his throat was slit
perhaps he was half dead already
this so-called retaliation fight defending his brother
in Death Row-
no not that Death Row-
that one apartment complex the tribe tried to move my grandma to
that one time
‘cause she lives alone

when his throat was slit
was his true family those he risked his life defending?
or was his true family those who ran to his side at the hospital?
it’s not your fault it’s not your fault
did they confuse their enabling of his behavior for their love?

when his throat was slit
I was reminded of generations of violence
how in some twisted way this is not unusual
in some terrifying way this is just called life
physical violence
chemical violence
epistemic violence
why was our response
I’m surprised he wasn’t already dead
not shock horror fear
why was my response
Why does this always happen to our family?
Why does he drink so much?
Why can’t he just leave the rez?
why wasn’t my response
fuck the government
they killed us
they took our land
they told us our culture was backwards our religion demonic
they put us in poverty
they put alcohol and drugs into our communities
then their job was done
now we’re slitting each other’s throats with the beer bottles
they gave us
(damn savages)

but the worst part is
when his throat was slit
I thought I hope he doesn’t die
Not because I was seriously concerned about his death
Some people already seem long dead
I wondered about his death because
I had an appointment early the next day
And I didn’t want a funeral to mess up my schedule.