This will be a short one, friends. I originally started writing this month’s post over the weekend with the intention of finalizing it in time for your eyes today. But then Breonna Taylor’s killers were not indicted for her murder. And once again, Black people in this country were shown—in the most excruciatingly usual of terms—that their lives do not matter, that the slaughter of Black bodies does not count, that the police who brutalize and murder Black people are above the laws they continue to claim they serve and protect.

So, I didn’t finish writing what I set out to write, which was to be the first part of a two-part story of the breakdown of my (not legally binding) marriage in 2007. Because that story can wait. What can’t wait is acknowledging the unbearable pain Black people in the United States have been forced to bear and bare. What can’t wait is acknowledging my own incredible privilege as a white woman with a voice. What can’t wait is justice.

No justice, no peace,

Jessica the Westchesbian

P.S. In case you still want to read an excerpt of the aforementioned original post, there’s one below. But I truly hope you won’t. I hope you’ll click the links above and get lost in Breonna Taylor’s story instead of mine.

It was in September thirteen years ago that Jenny, my partner of nine and a half, years left me. I was 30, had just started my last year of graduate school, was working full-time in a job I loved, and was teaching part-time as an adjunct. It was a year when everything felt so right and settled and in place, right up until the moment it all went wrong.

When Jenny got home that night, I was in the kitchen reeling (in a good way) from the most wonderful rejection I’ve ever received. A letter from Alice Quinn, then poetry editor of The New Yorker. They wouldn’t be publishing “Wildflower” or “What the Butterflies Did,” she informed me, but she encouraged me to keep submitting. And she gave me her own personal feedback on what she loved about each poem I had sent. If you’ve ever been through the submission process, you know how unique this is. Editors don’t send personal rejections.

Jenny and I had splurged on a vacation in North Carolina that summer. It was my first time back in many years, and it felt like home, for both of us. Or that’s what we said anyway. Jenny said a lot of things. On the drive back to New York City, we plotted our course to move to Asheville when I finished grad school. Maybe I could take my tech writing job with me; lots of tech writers work remotely (and I’m talking pre-COVID before all of us in big corporate offices started working remotely). Maybe we could even buy a house if I could keep my New York salary.

When Jenny got home that night, she should have been excited about the Alice Quinn letter—it was Jenny who’d submitted my poems to The New Yorker (Jenny handled all my submissions back then)—but she was quiet and moody. I asked her what was wrong—there was always something wrong—but she didn’t want to talk about it—she always didn’t want to talk about it until she did. So, I said what I always said, “Well, I’m here if you change your mind.” And like always, she did.

I was grading papers. I was on the couch in my bra and underwear grading papers. Had I known what was coming, I’d have at least put on a shirt.

Jessica lives with her shiksa wife and geriatric cat in picturesque Tarrytown on the Hudson. Although a proud Westchesbian these days, Jessica grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, back when the opening of the Olive Garden and the 24-hour Walmart were big news. During business hours, Jessica’s a communications professional who translates highly technical concepts into clear, concise, colloquial language that media buyers and sellers can understand. Outside of business hours, she’s a poet, cat mom, wife, avid reader, and lover of questionable crime, sci-fi, and supernatural TV shows (preferably all in one), not necessarily in that order. Her poetry has appeared in Tin HouseThe Paris ReviewLIT, and The Huffington Post, among others.

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