during days after the jury reads
its words,
i am struggling for time to write my own,
and this boy —
he follows me

i think
every day about the black teenager and ticker
tape along the screen’s bottom and the
sick that piles up in my gut
and conversations with my oldest girl
about all that’s

i think about laws that need fixed and
fear and violence and
and how lost life can
become hot button or
confused clouded
and how much

i’ve said nothing here until now and i
don’t want that to read as indifference about the kind
of tragedy that is death by
a thousand cuts
and bullets to living lungs and

the morning after the verdict, i sit in church with
young boys,
children of color in
tight curls and tennis shoes that hint
at their someday size and they sit close
to their mamas and daddies,

and how they love their mamas like mine love me,
and how those mamas love theirs

the pastor says,
God, we take hope in you because we have to
and prays,
Lord, where there’s righteous indignation,
show us your next steps

and i do not know next steps,
but i will keep holding
space for all i do not know and
i will keep talking color with these white
girls of mine,
knowing it is the privilege and choice of
my skin to deny
color and voice and
because it is not my

i will wonder
about all that i don’t even see, all i can never know
because of this skin i’m in

so i will ask questions and listen,
and put my heart into the body of one who
sees eyes dart, purse clutched
and streets
crossed and proclaim that
i want new streets
for mistrusted, despised,

and i will examine inside attitudes and
outside responses and never purport that i know what it means for
each one who walks
brown or black flesh
in america

this teenaged boy in a hoodie — he follows me, and his life
will not let me


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