Poetry by Ryan Wyatt

A Walk Downtown

We gathered together there
in the waning hours,
a thick summer air
marched the middle of town,
joined in loss,
in order to be found
Our footsteps fell,
pat-patting the only sounds
going for a walk, together, downtown
no words did passersby say
avoiding the solemn rite
we didn’t choose that day
Sunday night families gasped and spied
holding ice creams that melted
as the strangers, we cried
Our footsteps fell,
pat-patting the only sounds
going for a walk, together, downtown
one rangy maitre d’ stood at attention
stared at me, nodding and blinking,
then looked in the other direction
many chose that way that day
no other reason, ‘cept
the best place to look was away
Our footsteps fell,
pat-patting the only sounds
going for a walk, together, downtown
one foot in front of another
our tears flowing to the sea
over gone sisters and brothers
it didn’t feel like enough
but we know when you knock us down
we don’t always get back up.
So,
Our footsteps fell,
pat-patting the only sounds
going for a walk, together, downtown.

This poem was written about a vigil that I attended in Wilmington, NC for the Pulse shooting victims. A small group of residents gathered to mourn their loss and the hatred that permeates the world. We walked from a local gay bar to the riverfront. It was overwhelming in many ways but I mostly remember wondering why everyone downtown that night wasn't joining our procession, why more people weren't affected in a way that moved them to action. Then I felt other. Although there is much support for the community right now and Orlando is standing strong, it can all sometimes feel idle, empty, halfhearted. In my own grief and anger, so much feels like not enough. It seems to me that it should be harder to imagine feeling so other in times like this, but this is precisely when communities on the periphery can tend to feel the most other and when coming together in solidarity is that much more important.

 

Ryan Wyatt is a queer human currently living in Wilmington, NC, earning a degree in Carpentry from CFCC. A recent transplant from Florida, she spent 24 of her 30 years learning how to human in Orlando. She attended Lake Brantley High School and went on to Rollins College where she earned her B.A. in Philosophy. She has been known to Central Florida as a banker, a teacher for AmeriCorps in Apopka, a server of bar-b-que, and a bad softball player. Sometimes she writes about her feelings because she has a lot of feelings.