Malcolm X in Ardsley, NY.

Today Eoin and I visited Malcolm X’s grave. Or, the grave of Hajj-Malick El Shabazz, and Betty Shabazz. It took us a long time to find the stone even though Eoin had been there twice. He had made up a mnemonic device based on a painted X on the street to remember how to find the gravestone more quickly, but he couldn’t remember the mnemonic device. We split up and walked around in the sun, eyes to the ground. “I bet he’s laughing at us white devils, walking around in circles trying to find him,” Eoin said. I pictured Malcolm sliding around in socks on an empty basketball court, trying to thwart us but mostly in good humor. Afterwards we got Slurpees and our favorite flavor was something called “THOR,” after the movie; it tasted like creamy cherry Norse hunks. And Eoin smoked his beautiful black fake cigarette and my back was sweaty from walking around that graveyard full of flat stones. We left a hydrangea from my yard on Malcolm’s grave. It was blue-purple with tinges of age at the petaltips. Afterwards, in the car, we assessed how white we were: he in khakis and wearing a women’s hairclip, and my skirt was seersucker. “But we’re good readers,” I said, thinking this redeemed us. We both read the same version of Malcolm’s autobiography, which was originally my father’s. This is only the second time I’ve visited a graveyard for a specific headstone. The hydrangea’s stem was long and curved. It was the only flower on the grave.

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