I am a Cleaner.
At least that's what I thought I was. What I was told I was.
My purpose was always the priority.
Even back when I couldn't spell
Cleaner. That's what I believe[d].
Rooted in the ground, not far from the trees.
I was told good little girls grow to be
Cleaners. So prepare yourself now!
To clean up the family. Being an anchor is a responsibility.
I was told that 'credits to my race'
Spent their lives building bridges that shouldn't have to be there in the first place.
Their labour was their meaning.
Cleaning is a calling.
I was told my faith meant I had to clean up this world without myself falling.
A steward in the void.
And that's it.
I am because I was told.
And this Cleaning shadow stalks.
Because when you do your all, trying to complete this walk
You realise it's not that simple.
In spite of your mandate. Unchanging and evergreen.
Apparently I don't know what I am
Outside of distractions and cleaning.
I'm not even that good a Cleaner because nothing has changed.
And I sit in this unnaturalness, rotting.
Asking ghosts of myself what went wrong?
What have I forgotten?
Minute memories? Joys? Identity and all meaning?
Basically anything that falls outside this godforsaken cleaning.
I was told I'd be happy once the work was done; that this was a desired end.
Daniyyel's recurring nightmare of Empire upon Empire
Rising from afar. It really is all the same.
It's like this is our lot.
Nothing destroyed or created.
Just tinkerings and smatterings of mimicries of light abated.
And debris everywhere.
I suppose Cleaners were never supposed to actually clean things.
But rather dust away at anything seeking to obscure the ugliness.
Like a good, submissive Girl.
Like a good, obedient Believer.
Like a good, peaceful Negro.
There wasn't supposed to be a cure.
You were your role before you could spell.
And our incantations won't let you go.
But if I am a Cleaner
Who cannot clean,
Or something else that I cannot see
Then I am born to fail, most likely.
An ornament of good intention
Decorating the road to hell.
And this is why existence
Brings me so much contention.
Cleaners, prepare yourselves.
Recurring nightmares take much resistance.
Cover image: Atlantics (2019, Dir. Mati Diop)