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.
Tony Robinson, in a picture from his mother’s phone.