The Common Good
September-October 2013

They Will Kill You

by Ewuare X. Osayande | September-October 2013

Excerpt from Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander

they will kill you
and say I’m sorry
and expect your mother to
forgive and forget
she ever gave birth to you
carried you in love for nine months
endured labor
and pushed you out with God’s might moving in her hips
ever fed you life from her bosom
or how you smelled like heaven after she washed you
that she ever watched you take your first steps
speak your first words
ever tucking you into bed with stories that rocked you to sleep
the many nights she prayed for your protection
or how excited she was the day you gave your first recital
that she ever taught you to be good and kind
ever beamed with pride
whenever you got an A on your test
that she ever wanted the best in this world for you

they will kill you
and say I’m sorry
and expect your father to forgive and forget
ever holding your tiny body in his hands for the first time
and looking into your eyes and seeing eternity
ever teaching you how to ride a bike
or the many nights he helped you do your homework
how he worked hard to make your life easier
or playing catch with you in the backyard
or the life-lessons he recited to you over the rhythm of hair clippers
ever scolding you with stern words and reassuring hugs
ever kissing your cheeks
or how he was there week after week cheering you on from the stands
how he dreamed that you’d graduate high school
go to college
fall in love
and that he ever wanted this world to love you too

they will say I am sorry
and expect your mother and father
to forgive and forget
the day they learned of your fate
when the ground collapsed beneath them
and the earth swallowed their hopes and tears
as it did your blood

they will kill you
and say I am sorry
and expect your mother and father
to forgive and forget
that you ever existed

that you ever existed
they will shoot you
and pin you down in the pool of your own blood
suffocate you in the torture of your screams
and watch you die

they will leave you rotting in the morgue
as your parents lose sleep and hair
wondering where you are
on a trip down the block to buy some skittles and iced tea

they will douse your memory in the gas of gossip
and burn your body in the effigy of lies and race hate
they will tie you to blog posts and whip your image
til it is twisted and distorted
unrecognizable to the ones who loved you first

they will kill you
and raise money from the dead
body that was you

they will kill you
and expect us
to forgive and
forget.

Ewuare X. Osayande, poet and educator, is editor of the recently released Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, a global anthology of social justice poetry (www.standourgroundbook.com).

Image: Protestors march in support of Trayvon Martin, Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

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