I’m tracing the lines between an evangelical childhood and the radical events of January 6th.

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I don’t remember growing up entrenched in politics but I remember that I said the Pledge of Allegiance just before the pledge to the Christian flag. I don’t remember knowing anyone who wasn’t a Christian, didn’t appreciate traditional family values, didn’t believe in taking the message of Jesus to the world, and didn’t vote Republican because after all, in homeschool culture in rural Kentucky, these are all one and the same.

I don’t remember being told about the electoral college but I do remember being told that God Himself ordained the President and that we should pray endlessly for His will to be done. I remember the hopeful nights of George Bush and the concern over Bill Clinton. I don’t remember Bush’s war crimes being discussed but I remember Monica Lewinsky being demeaned and Clinton being disregarded. …


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When I was twelve I gained 40 pounds and shot up six inches. In a short period of time I went from the smallest girl in my gymnastics class to the tallest, the heaviest. All limbs and hips and midsection with no core strength and no coordination, everything about the familiar gym, my athletic and activity home for five years, seemed stark and unfamiliar. I couldn’t flip around the bars with any rhythm, lost my ability to tumble, and the splits sent me into hysterical tears. I took more bathroom breaks than I did runs down the trampolined runway - vaulting into nothing. I felt suddenly, starkly stopped. …


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Oh! Hey! Remember last year? I compared the year 2019 to a dry and awful blow job and I was SPOT ON and then 2020 hit, all salivated and hopeful and guess what motherfuckers? WORSE.

Fuck.

I don’t like to swear because my mother raised me not to. I don’t like to swear because someone once told me it was a sign of an unsubstantial vocabulary. I don’t like to swear because my kids (very occasionally) listen to me and yet…. did you live this year? Are there any other words? There are no other words.

And yet — when I look at my 2020 versus the 2020 of so many people I know and love, I am extremely lucky. I had Covid-19, weathered it and recovered, despite a significant secondary infection that tossed my body temperature to volcanic heights and left me nearly worthless for a week of 104 degree cold sweats. My year was full of reading and painting and writing 30+ Covid poems and telling stories in podcast and connecting with clients and friends and collaborators and dreamers and lovers…


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(Disclaimer.)
(Nevermind.)
(I do not need to be disclaimed.)

“You’re a good writer. But everything you write is better out loud.”
Fine.
Here.
#metoo is trending
and I’m trying to decipher the pangs and chills that
rumble my stomach and run up my spine
because I have been told that I overshare
that I’m too loud and
that people do not want to bear witness
to my trauma
when they have enough of their own

Me, fifteen, only wrote poetry
sentences were too hard, too much
they take all of the wind and words out of you
and they have…


I’m a cis/het/white woman, just on the right side of grab-her-by-the-pussyable

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Donald Trump’s policies have benefited me. They were designed to. I’m a cis/het/white/business owner, probably just on the right (wrong?) side of “grab her by the pussyable.” That financial gain has come at incredible cost.

After the Trump inauguration I was compelled into action as I listened to my friends and beloved companions who were experiencing fear, tension, loss, and grief.

In four years I have:

Seen the necessary importance of Affordable Care — which enabled my parents to seek world-class medical care for two types of cancer, a stroke, a pacemaker surgery, and an emergency appendectomy. …


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I wrote, in April, that 2020’s Easter was the “Halloween of Easter” — haunted by ghosts of Covid-19 mass graves and bleary-eyed zombies walking lonely down deserted Times Square streets. Foreboding and heavy then, I imagined crisp summer nights of healing and a healthy wind, well masked and rosy-cheeked, by autumn. We just had the “Halloween of Halloween” and on Tuesday, I am fists clenched and hopes held on the “Halloween of Elections.” I am haunted by 2016 — still PTSD drenched and drained from four years of constant division, aching loss of family members to fascist values, hate-filled rhetoric around dinner tables. We walked deserted suburban streets last night, ghostly and pale, the masks of American thinly held values ripped off for freedom’s sake. We are tired. …


Deliverance is never as desirable as desire itself.

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I keep the stack of divorce paperwork in the small walnut table next to my side of the bed in my side of the room in my side of the great divide between us. I have printed it 52 times and signed and dated every copy, assuming I’ll present it once a week, every week, all year long and that each presentation will have the same result. …


On watching a son blaze his own trail.

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At 4:45 a.m. the cold is visible. It appears then vanishes into the darkness as people move like shadows and shapes all around us. It is my place, my vocation, and my gift, to hold the flashlight as he lifts his bike onto the rack at the back of my van. It’s my honor to watch him with motherly concern and wide-eyed wonder that I played some role in creating this man-child, this athlete, who effortlessly hitches his bike to the car, ready to ride.

This bike has cost him everything. Every penny of hard-earned mowing money was taken, cash in hand, into the local bike shop where he negotiated with the owner, Tim, for $200 off the used 27-pound aluminum frame full-suspension bicycle he had his eye on. As an encourager of local youth cyclists, Tim wasn’t hard to convince, and Roman walked out of the shop that morning with his 11-year-old-bike in his 13-year-old-hands, giddy. This morning, his chilled but nimble fingers move slowly as he ratchets the straps down and secures the bike. I am watching every breath spill into the morning air, counting silently, as I have for his whole life, “one, two, three….” …


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peace demands a turn to speak
from the back row of
the largest classroom
raises a hand in defiance
glances at confrontation
steadies for a fight

my mother
well intentioned told me that peace was
to sit in silence and wait
on God’s timing
but did not teach me that I am a
goddess on my own time
that peace is seldom quiet and
operates in urgency
peace is the sound of feet running
pavement away from cycles of abuse
the sound of mothers lighting candles
in remembrance of dead sons and
daughters blowing smoke as they
ready to free the captives
wings…

About

Natalie LaFrance Slack

I keep an inventory. Of wonders. www.natalielafranceslack.com and www.verbstorytelling.com

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