Movie Screen

By Sarah Bellum Mental

PROMPT—My white privilege ...

The kids ask me

why is it,

we always die first

in the movies?


They clamber at me

my boyfriend’s daughter

his nephew

and I am aware

of the privilege

of my skin

white survival

I get to stay

until the end

of the movie.


The end of this reel.


The end of this street.


My stomach plummets

like Giant Drop

a rollercoaster

claiming my cortisol

to be mated

with a tepid tongue.


I wear my gut

in my throat

struggle to breathe

look at these kids

I love

but I know

the validity

of their words.


What part am I playing

in this movie?


What am I?


I don’t feel like

I have a right

to protect

but that’s all I know.


I don’t know what to say

how to talk about race

when I only have it

on my side

wonder if my boyfriend’s

shoulders would haunch

flinch

a millisecond

of acknowledgment

of the truth

their words.


Their innocence

making me want to be

a barrier

between this world

and them

to take every

ricochet word

thrown at them

to wear down

the skin

of my armor.


Just like Hulk

I have a body

made for protection

I’m a live nerve

accepting all the pain

I’ll spit out

the bullet.


They say these children

aren’t mine

aren’t something

for me to protect

would I get between

a bullet

and be the bulletproof

body that somehow

survives to the end

of the credits

of the screen time

because

I’m not meant to die yet.


While it takes so many

black lives

on a black screen

without a second thought.


The movies never show

how fast a bullet moves

how unlikely it is

to save

in an instantaneous

moment of bang

bleeding

and you’re dead.


I ask for us

to get to the end of the movie

my boyfriend risks his life

stepping down

the street without me

to be the in-between

to save him

from someone

seeing him as fear.


They don’t understand

the anger sitting

like tempered temperament

sitting on my throat

backwash

in the jowls

of my Pitbull’s mouth

crocodile chomp

waiting to protect

the children

that aren’t mine.


When the movie

stops running

our muscles congeal

beneath the big screen

I wonder what we need

to say

and what is left

to be the end

of the reel

we cut out

and don’t explain.

Sarah Bellum Mental is a Chicago poet now living in Houston, TX. Her biggest accomplishment is vanquishing anxiety when she performs poetry. Her first book can be found on https://www.sarahbellummental.com.