Keep Her.

Posted on April 26, 2008

I think about the woman.

She is still alive, has bills to pay, washes her hair, uses grease; the woman rides the subway. Justice will not cover the fare increase or a carton of cigarettes. Justice won’t find her after work with a quarterwater and a chicken patty. Justice has no arms, no chest, no jokes for her to rub the top of her head into. She sleeps alone. She does.

So really, there can be no recompense. Nothing’s going to soothe. Today is in many ways like yesterday, like every night before that one. That one. She will mark time in terms of 11/25. Before. After. Similar to. Smells like. Christmas will always be one month after.

As angry as I would like to be, my thoughts are with Nicole, who ultimately has Sean’s children to raise. I’m hoping for her sanity and well being, that she gets some respite from the cameras. I know from experience that the retelling of tragedy isn’t always the best way to get over it, so I’ll spare my outrage, I’ll not comment on the way I’m not surprised.

I can’t even really be that upset. In my lifetime there have been three notable instances where The People vs. have failed on such a scale. How long before another? Bell joins King and Diallo in that brimming corner of black memory. Bell becomes part of a litany of the failure of American Justice. But what, in this country, does justice buy? And why should we be shocked?

I am neither shocked nor content. I am at the end of breath and patience. I am nauseous and cold and inclined to forget. A man was killed and I am writing about myself. I am distinctly American at the moments I’m least welcome in this country. I have nothing left worth saying, only thoughts of this woman. Lord. Help me.

A prayer for Nicole:


Keep her. Let her cry the way she needs to. Keep her close. And away from the edge. Help her raise children who feel safe to smile and aren’t afraid of being scared, who have wounds that scab and heal. Dear God, she is us: at once ashamed of and confident in the humanity of twelve of her peers. Let us be near to her heart, and cautious with such a responsibility. Keep us well. Let Nicole live, as we pray to be, in your sight, and livid when it is time to be. It is time now, but let her sleep deeply tonight. Make us better by dawn, by trial and by fire.

God, not another Sean Bell.

Let this singular prayer have force, Let it have power, Let it be so.

2 Replies to "Keep Her."

  • KJoe
    April 27, 2008 (11:56 am)

    Yesterday Sonia Sanchez visited SLC on a poetry tip. It was beautiful to stand in the same room as her. It was a large room but she swallowed it up with her wisdom. I walked her to her car and carried her bags. I asked her what I should do now that I’ve realized that my life and the lives of the black men in my life are at risk for being killed. I asked her this because she seemed like the only person who could answer me. The amount of Sean Bells that she had to deal with in her day is countless and I wanted to know how she remembered to breathe. Finding out the verdict early in the day was hard but somehow he slipped out of my mind enough for me to get some work done. The moment I saw Sonia, I remembered and fell backwards into honesty. The honest truth that my baby cousins will get a growth spurt, bloom into beautiful men and get picked up for fitting a description all in the same year. I don’t know if I’m ready to say good-bye to them yet but being male, black, in BK is a formula that is used to build prisons and caskets. I just got the memo that shit is bad. Sonia told me that I should start guarding my life b/c it will be taken away when I’m careless. She said to leave negativity wherever it found me and to tell every brown person that I know to stay in when it’s dark. They hunt for us then. It hurts to know that the night can be an enemy when so many of my ancestors used the night to live. I love my life but I love the lives of little black children more. How do I tell them all before the sunsets?

  • Mozart
    April 27, 2008 (7:47 pm)

    beautiful words. Needed to be said.

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