‘may they remember.’ by francine j. harris

— Nix Thérèse

The incantation of ‘may they remember.’ implies that being so far removed from the natural world and its lessons allows us to reproduce the harm inherent in that break. harris flips even as far back as the first humans at the opening of the world: the speaker calls for POTUS & SCOTUS to “relieve themselves of their fantasy rib.” Haven’t we sometimes watched them fashion into a renegade Adam, hoarding the extra rib that could begin another vessel, another humanity that can hold new breath? The fantasy is that the excess isn’t excess, but a puzzle piece rendering them whole. The fantasy is an illusion of remaining intact as if you didn’t spin out of a series of failed bodies to evolve.

When the speaker hopes they “know the knot gorilla worry, fathom night terror at the chimp arms”, the anxiety’s running like a current until it can deeply burrow in and even shut down the functions of the body. This moment calls for a return to the palpable, the consequences of their actions becoming one long gulf of disquiet that’s more complete glitch than just an itch. The wish for isolation feels similarly devastating: “may they flash to the deep fret nervosa of claws over stone. of being lost from the pack.” Stripping them of communal resources both forces them to fend off the wild, and recognize just how small they are in the grand scheme. What’s a claw to the stone that can bear more scratches than it alone can give? What’s a single ape to the growing forest?

Sometimes the only way to level the playing field is to zoom out to the unyielding field.

For all its prototypes, evolution doesn’t guarantee survival in the current timeline, but remains a gamble. “Min[ing] their memory for origin” is a subtle indictment of anti-Black racism & sometimes xenophobia—where it’s implied that Black people and those not native to this country haven’t made enough of an evolutive jump from ape to human—because here, falling back into the ape would mean honoring what propelled you forward, instead of squashing any connection as soon as you reach power. They’d do well to recognize that history remains a chain, even trailing into the body; why wrap it in your hands like a leash when you’re still cuffed to the ball?