Sister Glo Euro N’Wei
This is not a history lesson.
Inscribed on the walls of the temple in Prague are the names of families erased. I cannot fill my pockets with enough stones to leave on the graves of lost generations.
Second generation holocaust memories haunt me. I wasn’t there, have only stories and absence of stories. Second generation holocaust blood memories.
Driving down the highway outside of Prague on the way to Theresien, or on the bus outside of Berlin on the way to Sachsenhausen, I could not breathe from the weight of the spirits of family who took this same route to their death, could only cry and gasp and touch the wooden bedframes, the rough wood of tables in barracks, feel my great-grandfather’s hand touch mine across the years. Bruno. Second generation holocaust body memories.
Yad Vashem outside Jerusalem, the calling of names. The temple in Prague, the calling of names. The museum in DC, the calling of names. They call my name, my people, my family, my dead.
Stitched into panels of fabric of the Quilt are the names of people erased. I cannot fill my pockets with enough stones to leave on the graves of lost generations.
Second generation genocide memories haunt me. As I was discovering my queer identity, my brethren were dying, leaving their stories, their absence of stories. Second generation genocide spirit memories.
Walking around the panels, I could not breathe from the weight of the spirits. Eric was the first of my friends to escape to the promised land of San Francisco, the first to fall to the virus. I grew up with Ryan White, with Rock Hudson, with Magic Johnson and Greg Louganis, grew up watching the generation of men above me lose the generation above them. Second generation genocide soul memories.
The memorial grove in San Francisco, the calling of names. The Quilt, the calling of names. The candlelight vigils, the calling of names. They call my name, my people, my family, my dead.
How did these become my horrors? There are too many dead for me to comprehend the weight of spirits, the chorus of stories.
I was born with generations of ancestors lost to holocaust and genocide. I was born with fear in my blood, with diasporas and pograms and disease. I was born with the fever of burning synagogues, the fever of burning viral nightsweats. I was born with my blood flowing with the tears of grief of lost generations.
No wonder there are days when all I can say is, I’m tired, days when I can’t breathe, can’t see the ripples of acts of kindness, can’t feel the love, can’t hear the stories through the deafening sound of absent generations, can’t see past the fear of being swept up, targeted and slaughtered.
I cannot fill my pockets with enough stones to leave on the graves of lost generations. There are too many dead. I carry in my pocket one stone. One stone for survival. One stone to remember lost generations. One stone to mark my body as a memorial to them and their stories. One stone for hope that we will no longer have to be afraid.
This is not a history lesson. This is a survival lesson.
Sister Glo Euro N’Wei is a Seattle-based queer health advocate, femme faerie, poet and nun. She believes that the most radical and revolutionary act is learning to love our queer selves. She is drawn to sparkly objects and seeks to embody the transformative power of glitter and love in action. As a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Abbey of St. Joan, Sister Glo has been nunning her way through Seattle’s queer nonprofit scene for way more than a decade, raising thousands of dollars for charities, and spreading love, joy and smiles.
As a poet, she was a student at Bent, Seattle’s queer writing school, for the better part of a decade, and served for four years on Bent’s Board of Directors. She performed on the stage of Bent’s Annual Mentor Showcase five years in a row, in TumbleMe’s October 2009 production And God Said Come Inside, and in Gay City Arts’ May 2015 Spoken Word Poetry Festival Word Play. The Femme Family NYC published her piece, “Gender Wishes” in their Femme Family Zine #1: Coming Out in Fall 2009. In 2011, she self-published her first chapbook, God’s Chin and in 2012 her second, Leaving Stones. She is a graduate of Artist Trust’s Edge for Writers program.