They say you get the hour back in the fall
but it’s so old by then you’ll hardly know
it’s yours. Remember when your postpartum ghost
convinced you that you’d been sent home, arms full
of someone else’s baby? That wasn’t true.
Come fall, don’t fret that time. Just sleep right through.
But what if we got to pick which hour to lose?
The wasted hour? The bad phone call? (To choose–
as if we could control the clock–but wait–we do.)
What interest would that time have then accrued?
Would we regret the moment and the choice?
Would we learn how badly our intentions screw things up?
Yes, and yet–we want to scream it–Cease! Desist!
to our mistakes, to family, friends, and also, yes,
to the officer who shot to kill and not to stop.
I feel the need to say this very carefully.
Another young black man has been shot and killed by the police. There are peaceful protests planned.
I am praying today for the family and for the city of Madison.
I can say, carefully and logically, that I am not anti-police, that I truly appreciate how they put themselves in harm’s way so many times to protect the people they serve. I understand, logically, and legally, that a police officer can have just cause for shooting. But as much as I believe those sentences, I also know I write them from a position of middle-class white privilege, so I almost wanted not to write this paragraph at all.
What is more important to say, for me to say, is that the reason police keep NOT getting the benefit of the doubt is because of persistent racism. That’s what they just found in studying Ferguson. And there are ongoing conversations about the problems in Madison related to race. This latest round of talks was sparked by a special editorial by Rev. Alex Gee in the Cap Times called “Justified Anger.”
I find that editorial thoughtful and disturbing. It should disturb me. It should move me to act, but I don’t always know how to act. Or when.
I might not know what to do, but I did know one thing not to do.
I’ve been thinking about Daylight Saving Time, which I hate, and I’m working on some flash fiction about it, and the first two lines of the above poem occurred to me yesterday, and as I began writing it, I wanted it to to be a mildly thoughtful but mostly silly poem about the urge to mess with time, to stop time, to take things out of time.
But what would that mean, to write a mostly silly poem when once again another young black man is dead at the hands of the police, and this time, really close to home? I couldn’t do it.
It’s not much, but I made this poem and this post not totally about me and my silly thoughts.
Of all the recent hours I’d like to lose, I’d like to lose the one where Anthony Robinson died.
Thanks, Marnie. Made me weep (though I was admittedly pretty close to tears about this).
As Hannah, thank you, Marnie! I wish everyone would put this much unbiased thought into the too frequent police shootings, then maybe we’d have far, far fewer of them.
We all can relate to the poem AND the situation which ignited its creation. Whether it is Madison, Ferguson, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami,etc., etc., etc. the fact remains too many lives have been taken in an instant (not an hour) of hate or fear. What would have happened IF there were no weapon? Might the situation been diffused in some manner which could have saved a life? Might the killer taken a different path to resolve the encounter instead of “shooting first and asking questions later?” Was the entire situation worthy of the lose of one more human being? Let the training begin on how to live with patience, diversity, respect and not regret, fear and hate.
My heart aches for Tony Robinson’s Mother and all of the Mothers who have lost children this way. There, but for the Grace of God, go any one of us who have sons, regardless of race, social class, or any other factors. There used to be a well known deputy sheriff here who used to routinely stop and beat teenaged white boys, steal their drugs, and give them to his son, a well known drug dealer to resale. The man in question was also white and was allowed to get away with this for years. Thank God, he never stopped or attacked my child. One of his victims was hospitalized for over a month in the local hospital.