superhero sunday shining

today was beautiful the bodies the music the colours. infinite shades of blackness walking talking dancing singing. all ages under a groove. they sing, here. and smile and ask you how you doin’? without expecting a response. first time i had relaxed in a long time.

footsteps move to the rhythm, keep step with the old lady in front and the men flanking. can’t help but add a switch to my step, my usual strut converted to sashay. and still more conservative than most. i followed a man who moved so beautifully i grinned watching, detoured for blocks because the way he moved his body brought joy. lost him when a woman joined a band and sucked everyone’s attention into her. next to the tuba player a man walked who handed the musician a gallon jug of water at intervals. men who looked like my uncles and women who looked like my cousins. older couples moved closer, arms around waists when the band played slow jams. clapped cheered and sang along in loud voices. the best fried chicken i have ever tasted.

outsider status moved me around in a bubble. the deejay made an announcement, asked the crowd to sign a sympathy card they left donations. they cry for each other here. they have each other here. a child in a crowd toddles away from her father, and a line clears between child and parent. a little boy stumbles, immediately three people stop around him and reach out, scanning for his adult. a father rides by on a motorcycle at the slowest possible speed, while little man accompanies on a child’s atv. up north, we don’t respond to children the way they do here, and it’s beautiful here, closer to home.

Super Sunday, New Orléans, March 2011

***

“Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.”

given a chance he would give me all that he had, starting with his blunt. i smiled and declined, he upped the ante. all that is mine, he said. canada’s not that far away, he said. oh, you’re sudanese? took his hat off and bowed. i just have to say, i identify with your struggle. at my response, he retreated into dated notions and afrocentric nubian queendom. bon appetit, but you can’t have the coleslaw as he ushered a drunken man in green away. d’accord ma chére, how you doin’? encore. in a cowboy hat zoomed in outsider, he called. scanned from head to toe, smiled at sweetheart, take it easy. don’t forget it’s a conspiracy eyes narrowed, stay safe. y el sordo tambíen don’t walk past here at night, take care of you. bredren from yard interrupted our music conversation to tell his sistren they were beautiful as they approached. thank you they dragged the vowels out and smiled into eyes. told me his daughter looked like me, beautiful too.

(encounters understood in context, recognise that their value lies in their source, my reflection).