‘In Defense of “Candelabra with Heads”’ by Nicole Sealey

— Reneé Bibby

Though some of us may live far from Charlottesville, Virginia, the eruption of violence this weekend is the harbinger of what’s to come for all of us in the United States. It’s the rumble of thunder over the mountain, the violence of lightning in a dark cloud, it’s a reckoning: we can’t hole up inside and insist it’s not raining; we will have to take to the streets; and we will have to decide what side of history to be on. In the electric buildup of storm, before it all breaks, of course, we turn to art. Of course, we turn to story and poetry. I’ve been biting my nails and scrolling through miles of social media, op-eds, debates, and analysis but the caesura in the tumult has been poetry. I’m not speaking of platitudes passed off as poetry. I’m speaking of hard, cutting narratives, like Sealey’s ‘In Defense of “Candelabra with Heads.”’ She isn’t pulling punches, for she asks us to look back, without covering our eyes and pleading squeamishness, to the dark heart of racism and violence in our history. How we know that a man’s body burns like branches of a tree. She is speaking of deeply rooted racism that flourishes today. Yet, she also speaks to a future, when what was sown and thriving can be uprooted and eradicated. Because with all of portends of dark times, we may be able to find a way to something brighter and better, made clean and restored.