Black woman in brownish gold strappy top, staring out of window with her chin resting on her fist.

they never tell you

that heartache aches

like this.

they never say

that heartbreak feels

like an open wound.

no one says

that the emptiness of grief

fills you all the way up.

they don’t tell you

that you’ll feel the hurt

in your throat, on top of the words.

they don’t warn you

about the violence

in your stillness, surfacing memories that are dust now.

they don’t say

you’ll grow deeper depths in pain

just to feel a

I wish someone told me

that heartache aches

like this.

A red rose that appears to be shattering and blowing in the wind.

what if

i just miss you.

because i’m still madly,

and deeply,

in love with you?

and, what if

i know loving you was never enough

to keep you here on the earth,

tethered to the ground?

what if

i knew your heart was too broken

to ever fully be…

the first time we went to an ice cream shop,

we were on a date.

you wanted me to taste your favorite ice cream in New Jersey.

the lady next to us kept talking,

and you awkwardly entertained her,

while i giggled.

the second time we went to an ice…

the thing about being desired

is that you’re never really wanted.

it’s this thing where you’re imagined

but never perceived or regarded.

it’s this thing where you’re a collection of pieces and parts

but never really whole.

it’s this thing where you’re not yourself

because you’re someone else’s fantasy.


what does a broken heart do?

does it heal over?

does it start again?

does it seize under the weight of the pain?

does it atrophy?

does it suffocate, drowning in the blood that sustains it?

or, does it just stop?

my broken heart just keeps breaking, over and over…

The night I learned that my cousin died, I recorded a Zoom lecture.

The day I found out my childhood friend was gone, I did my job, pressed power, looked into the lens.

I told jokes.

I put on my professor hat.

I wore Fenty and Pat McGrath.

I swallowed…

Amidst a deep and messy grief,

I choose gratitude.

Beneath the rubble

and debris,

and shattered ties unbinding,

I choose peace.

After all the pomp

and the circumstance,

and the moments

when time stands still,

air so quiet I can hear my heart beat

in my chest,

the air slowly…

a Black person’s hands playing piano

“To God be the glory, to God be the glory, to God be the glory, for the things He has done.”

You taught me to sing that song.

You taught me legato and vibrato.

You laughed when I changed the words around.

You sighed deeply when I slipped the note.

For the first time
in my life,
I witnessed my free Black children
chasing an ice cream truck.

There still remains,
Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD

Black, Queer, and Radical | Political Scientist | Abolitionist, Writer, Organizer | I podcast at | they/them/Goddexx

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