Collective Unrest

 

Elegy for the Black Man Who Survived a Police Encounter Today

May 29, 2019

I thought you were dead when I first saw you.

Ghost of my dreams, you are what I see
when the news tells me who’s laying in their pool
of blood this time. But you are not where I imagined, where
I thought possible. I am so used to the hauntings at the corner
store / the curbside / that Wal-Mart in the hood / that seeing you
in the bus station had me looking twice. Here you are,
standing tall with an Army backpack and camo jacket,
right and living in a crowd of passengers. You are animated, laying your
hands down on the steel countertop like you’re marking graves,
each coming down of your arm a new plot for the next victim.

This is where I apologize for thinking you were an apparition.
It was just that the man next to you, with his stalwart blue eyes
befitting of the uniform he dons, convinces me that you were
already face up / face down / crumpled in a heap of limp limbs on the
floor. The way he chats with you is so pass-you-in-the-hallway casual,

what with his cocked gun grin. I can’t catch what you two say, but
no matter how wide you smile, I cannot be swayed to believe that it’s
about anything except a crime you aren’t committing.

Ghost of my dreams, I must leave you here. This is where I catch my bus,
find my seat by the window, and make sure I pass you one last time
before we depart the station. Again, I cannot be swayed about what
conversation you’re having, but I hope that you saw my double-take.
I hope that you saw that I saw you still breathing, still
with pulse at 5:02 with the sun still clinging to the horizon.

I hope that you are an object of permanence — that by me looking
away, you will not disappear and be forgotten in a pool of your blood.

 

 

Jasmine Sierra (she/her) is a queer, polyamorous, black woman and graduate of Oberlin College based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is currently attending Spalding University for her MFA, and is focused on completing her first, upcoming collection, AVOIDANT PERSONALITY. She has been featured on The Shade Journal, Winter Tangerine, and more. She can be found on Instagram at @sierra_j25. Other links include her portfolio at http://www.sierraj.com/ and her Ello at https://ello.co/sierraj.

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