Essay: Kamasi Washington – “The Epic”

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“The Epic”

by Kamasi Washington

2015 | Brainfeeder | Produced by Kamasi Washington

Home cooked meals made in a home populated by family that grow together and don’t let the past tear up a unit. At the table I’m young and impressionable and I can look out the window to see wild life. There’s a current running through the grass that feeds up to my spine and it animates me too. And my dad is yelling about about not bringing pork into the house and my mom is crying because she can’t recognize this man and it’s too late now.

But there’s a current running through the grass that feeds up to my spine that animates me too. In the bodies of the birds and critters there’s something that I’m a part of. Of off color shade under a tree. Intriguing spaces between the stones that make up the wall that separates the sheep farm from my backyard.

Running in the long grass with a baseball bat; it’s possible to escape and stay home. I’m alone and that’s fantastic at one moment and then it’s so terrifying.

No matter what happens, I’m here. I look different every time I see myself. Dad used to live here and he hasn’t been back in weeks. No matter what happens, I’m here. No matter what. Hearing peepers in the field and walking to where the trees start and the forest.

“I’m running away,” I tell him because I want to see how they will care. He laughs in a way that knows I’ll be back and I only get half a mile away before I start to walk back home.

In the forest, everything is scarier. There’s no big people in the forest. There could be magic nature out here that makes it so I can create myself all over again. A branch is dead under my foot and when I step on it I snap it and then there’s someone following me. Dead things is all around me and dead things snap easily. It’s on the floor. The spine of the forest is dead things and it animates me too. I can climb into the limbs of a tall tree and sit on the branch and I probably won’t fall down and get hurt.

I don’t understand how something that I’m a part of can be dangerous to me.

There’s a broken swing set in the backyard made out of rotted wood. The chain is yellow and old, ode to beginnings made out of fantasies assembled from an absence of courage. In rage sitting on an immovable stone by the driveway that’s too big to dynamite without blowing my fingers off and massive vehicles and machines are cutting and lacerating the nature to build new homes. They look like nicer versions of my home and they’re worth more. And the critters died but their blood and urine and spines are under the new house, under the porch.

There’s animals of different species that work together and animals that kill each other for food. The colonial militia assembled here and fought against the bad guys, the British, and the country that you’re a part of that came after that is good. Everybody works together and the bad people killed and were killed because they were bad. I look different every time I see myself in the mirror.

It’s shame when I see things that are new and different in me that weren’t me. The shame hurts inside then it’s comfortable and consistent and I can recognize myself. Sometimes a thousand little gremlin critters explode from my chest. Light from my spine rips up their faces and I don’t have a self anymore.

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