Reparations Redefinition: Bond

Marcus Wicker

Noun: A uniting or binding element or force.              The thing about facing your fears head onis it only really works on TV. As an example, let’s say              a clawfoot bathtub teeming with arachnidsis your garden variety anti-fantasy.              Now, say the sitcom dad in you gets the itchto do something experiential, something special              for your 40th (stay with me), so you willinglydive into a pool of 10,000 tarantulas, head-              first. In the Fear Factor versionof this midlife episode, Ludacris is like              Man, white people are crazy.In reality, this sounds like a frightful fucking              headache, six ibuprofen & stitches.Like 80,000 eyeballs all up in your situation,              if you catch my drift. & I bet,the last thing you need is a group of  hairy              climbers, & their many-legged offspring,ogling your property. Sniffing up the ol’ oak tree              after the acorns you squirreled awayfor the fam when the market was healthy.              Square any beef  between two parties& you’ll find money lurking somewhere              near the root. Of evil & fear,Aristotle claimed, pain arises              from the untoward bracing.He strikes me as a particularly              anxious dude. Extreme fear can neither fight nor fly. But comply, I think              Shakespeare implied.The thing about facing your fears head on              is your head &the knowledge of history. From an aerial              vantage, a battlefieldof sun-blanched skulls              resembles one psychedelic mushroom patch.Can you see the speckled gecko playing hide & seek              with the ravenous Komodo dragon,weaving through 2 million cavernous eye sockets?              Or am I just deep in my spacesuit bag?If it helps, you may think of this figure as figurative—              a literal marker in the definition’s landscaperepresenting blacks slain              during the Transatlantic Slave Conquest.Or perhaps Greek tragedy begets your literary              empathy. When Ray Parker Jr. sang“I ain’t afraid of no ghost,” he didn’t account for              the Great-Great-Granddaddy Apparitionof Social Studies. My fear of history is a valid fear              of  Power—stripped, lorded over, misguided—corrupting one’s sense              of need in favor of excess. Head to head, bird tonest, I’m saying I understand what steers our national              stasis, our fossilized political animals, & Iforgive us. As an example of forgiveness, let’s say              I had money to produce this40 Acres & a Mule script with Spike Lee. As in              reality, the narrative’s of little consequence.But peep the plot-twist ending:              Marques, our handsome protagonistattorney (stay with me),              wins a class action suitto the tune of lifetime therapy              for everybody.

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Marcus Wicker is the author of Silencer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Maybe the Saddest Thing (Harper Perennial), a National Poetry Series selection. His awards include a Tennessee Arts Fellowship, Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, and The Fine Arts Work Center. Wicker’s work has appeared in PoetryThe NationThe New RepublicAmerican Poetry Review and elsewhere. He is co-poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review, and an associate professor of English at the University of Memphis where he teaches in the MFA program. 

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