Corrine Jasmin, “through the looking glass” (2022)
Edited by Shori Sims and Harrison Smith
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Bunker Projects or its members.For out latest addition to
The Hand-Off series, Corrine Jasmin reflects on a lost friendship through the lens of misogynoir. In this paired statement and poem, Corrine considers the importance of platonic love, the violence of its misuse, and the situation of individual friendships within larger, gendered and racialized systems of power.
Humans are innately programmed to connect with other humans, though intimacy and proximity is earned and not owed.
This poem paints the ending of a friendship several years ago. It took a while to flesh out and write initially, with me staring down at a first draft in January of 2020. Like romantic relationships, friendships also hold weight and pain. Issa Rae said:
We don’t really get these stories that are rich and treated with the same sincerity and hurt and anguish that romances are. Friendships are relationships. They are romances; you love your friends. And nobody respects friendship breakups in the same way as you respect a romantic breakup, but they affect your life…little paper cuts, which almost hurt more.
I wish there was more space to grieve and highlight platonic and familial love and loss the same way we highlight all things around romance. Romance isn’t the only form of love nor the center of many people’s lives, though there’s a lot of societal pressure to make it that way. The dialogue and energy around platonic and romantic bonds aren’t treated with the same significance.
I had to let this out through my art just as I’ve released romantic loss. I ended a friendship where I was treated very poorly and made to feel less than a person. Nothing about it felt safe anymore. The longer I stayed, the further from myself I felt. Everything that came after the separation wasn’t light and airy. I chose myself and still experienced suffering. I processed the breakup and heartbreak while navigating through mixed feelings. All work towards healing. With distance and perspective, I had more clarity around the unhealthiness and how it affected my psyche. We still grieve the people we let go or who mistreat us. The complicated feelings that come up around it aren’t great.
Outside of just plain ole “bad friendships,” for those existing in the world as dark-skinned femmes, misogynoir is often at play and was definitely at play in this dynamic. Whether it’s consciously or unconsciously doesn’t matter. It’s dehumanizing when people, especially loved ones, treat us in harmful ways and believe we’ll just take it or that’s the way we deserve to be treated. The moment we stand up for ourselves we become a problem or a threat. We’re dismissed, shut down. Across various types of relationships, we feel the burn of misogynoir from those in our lives. No matter how many ways some want to disguise it or write it off as something else. Call it what it is. The world treats Black femmes as less than and that notion is widely accepted and encouraged. We search for genuine connection, love, and reciprocity, and end up being used for dumping, emotional labor, and a punching bag. Often, the case is that we’re easily disposable, tossed to the side when it’s convenient, left to pick up the fragment pieces on our own, and cut ourselves with confusion along the way. This past November, I read a thread online of a large group of Black femmes and women discussing things similar to what I’m writing here. So many of us had the same story. To a tee. Especially with former friends. It leaves me wondering: what are the ways in which people crave (and are even excited by) our intimacy to only exploit it?
post mourning: clarity
|the words i had left to say have already returned back home|
where they belong
loved you dearly, but i can’t up close
your fangs pierced my skin,
cut my throat and watched the blood drip
you were hurting
i couldn’t join you down the rabbit hole
i’ve visited several times before,
switched places with the hatter,
etched my name on the couch,
crawled my way back out
ashamed at how i treated my intuition
like an unwanted house guest
ignored every bruise on my back
all in different shades
ignored depletion in the name of…
well…now i’m not so sure
turned my back on myself
on tear-soaked wet carpets
until it all came crashing
maybe i was your mirror
or were you were mine?
there was a point where i felt you really saw me
i saw you too — how terrifying
now you don’t know me at all
it didn’t grow sour, it grew parasitic
never received apologies i hoped would come
thought of mailing some myself
that’s how it works, isn’t it?
i apologize for your actions
i processed your absence like a death without a funeral,
celebration, viewing, burial, or cremation
just a death
no real goodbye
who had the last word?
were you keeping score?
almost called you more times than i can count
flashbacks made me reach for the phone
louder memories served as omens
fingers flinched then relaxed
clapped my hands to turn on the lights; it was just a shadow
mine or yours?
i kept still
we can’t be foolish enough to count on forever
you see, forever is a concept
pinky promises are for kids
but isn’t it a little fun to be naive sometimes?
i used to listen to your favorite music
a way to say hello from a distance
your energy entered the room
reminder that you existed
that we existed together
i’ve wondered if i made the right choice
then of course, not now
|no matter what i said|
how i said it
what language i spoke
your ears were taped shut
turning away was like wrenching out teeth
i grieved completely solo
reflected on it all on trains
arrivals and departures
waves of sadness smacked me out of my sleep
was that really you in my dreams?
the i miss you days felt like poison
it’s funny, when we choose ourselves we still suffer for a bit
feelings dissolve, wounds heal, senses assemble,
health restores…i came back
pain is nothing but a visitor
no more boundaries,
you can’t come in
here’s a note from my side of the wall
we’re really strangers now
the first time we were strangers in public
i reminded myself to be careful what you wish for
words are magic
i wept on my night walk home
when people demonize others
i wonder if it traps them in our bodies
freezes them in place
i released and cleansed
forgiving, never forgetting
vendettas are interesting
though there’s no room for venom in my heart
it’s bursting at its seams
my plate is full
it doesn’t bring me joy
wish you nothing but wellness
the places we’ve been, things we’ve seen
cross my heart
didn’t have to say a word
held me through nights where i struggled to sleep,
when i woke, begging to go back or disappear
scooped my brain off your kitchen floor,
reminded me what color my heart is
you insisted they needed me here on Earth
i wonder if you still think that’s true
gratitude for the warm thoughts
colder ones manage to scream louder
i’ve seen your smile,
but i’ve never seen you smile
what brings you joy lately?
are you taking care?
remember when it was me and you?
have you chosen yourself yet?
i’m doing better now
look across the street
i’m playing your favorite song
Corrine Jasmin is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer working with music, film, installation, and visual media. Jasmin is known for her unique lens-based work, commanding performances, and thoughtful writing. She’s exhibited films and works in galleries throughout Pittsburgh and the Midwest and has performed around the country. Her work has been featured by Carnegie Museum of Art’s Storyboard and published or featured in various publications such as international Siegessäule.
Jasmin recently released Fever Dream Insomniac, her solo debut album, which is available available on Spotify.