Before we learned this position
for its relevance when faced with a gun
you could find my people
packed in a sweaty sanctuary —
arms raised, wailing,
asking God to speak and He spoke,
as much as any word is an approximation,
a translation, a mother’s ecstatic dance
until she falls limp to the floor, slain
in the spirit, as we called it, and the ushers
cover her with a sheet to protect her
modesty, not unlike a sheet used to cover
the bodies of sons, before sent
to coroner, after a Sunday morning
singing whose report will you believe?
I raised my hands and felt
a spirit open, tremor like my bones
were sliding past each other,
causing a shaking rift
like the lonely chasm between
Heaven and a cursed Earth.
I was young. This was before
the videos: man shot
while lying on the ground, man shot
calmly in his car, man shot
and/or tackled and/or pinned and/or thrown
and/or choked — meanwhile a mother gasping
between cries out to her Lord
to save us all.
Young, I tried not to resist God’s
overwhelming presence, but this was before
the video of the dead man
being dragged by police,
his literal dead weight not enough
to not be told stop resisting.
This was before I walked into a service
in a church basement and a pastor
took me by the shoulders, shook me
and shouted how I needed to be radical for God.
I need no more convincing that death
in itself is a resistant, radical act.
Surely, Jesus taught us that.
Surely, surrender is not defeat,
but acceptance, is saying
take what you will take
of my body, O you whose smiting
I have been witness to —
I have seen what your hands
can do and so I offer you my own.
Published in Waxwing Issue 15