again this week, they killed another child who looked like my brother – Michigan Quarterly Review

again this week, they killed another child who looked like my brother

Fall 2022 | Victoria Stitt Reads "again this week, they killed another child who looked like my brother” MQR Sound

Victoria Stitt reads her poem, "again this week, they killed another child who looked like my brother", for MQR's Fall 2022 special issue, 'Fractured Union: American Democracy on the Brink'.
after John Murillo

they tell me to set up an auto-reply, 
that i have a computer to respond
to messages of children’s chalky exhaustion, 

after another one of our bodies lies 
on pavement. cold and 
not so sudden. here i am, 

thinking of this and
that. they tell me, i tell me, 
i should be grateful as my lover sits by the window, 

painting the meadow-mountain below. 
i watch as he layers the oil, then scrapes it away. 
and, each day throughout this week, 

throughout this vacation, he builds and scrapes, placing 
the palette knife on burlap, shedding its 
fibers, weakening its resolve. i pull 

the blanket higher. my resolve is to hide. 
until i am closed. until 
i am close. in high resolution i hear 

another one’s mother’s cry. this one’s
mother’s cry. she harnesses  
the wind, 	holding in howl, holds in     

his body. it trembles earth where i 
refuse to 
shed skin. it around my ankles. death 

does not stop
the mothers cry–
outside this silent breath their 

deaths do not paralyze. i hear  
a sermon in the distance: 

this, too, shall 
it sounds like he is asking. 

i look to my lover,
who looks out at the green, at these 
mountains suddenly quivering, at our 

summer refuge, and i 
write. red ink pulping pages, 
shedding their 

resolve, scraping at teeth. 

Coolbaugh Township, PA

Fall 2022 | Victoria Stitt Reads "coolbaugh township, PA” MQR Sound

Victoria Stitt reads her poem "coolbaugh township, PA", from MQR's Fall 2022 special issue, 'Fractured Union: American Democracy on the Brink'.
the same images 
in their 

the u-haul pick up
the plastered street 
bordered by gravel and changing

but these trees were (not) there
or, i mean, those leaves are (not) here
or, when he ran in white (not) just running.

i wonder who here, in this mountain town, monitors 
	peace and
	justice, who is 
self-appointed security
looking for irregularity, identifying it in
candy-eaters— oh these
shades of trees, shades under trees,
the crying breeze, 	the black body
running 		is not
unconventional, or i mean
ahistorical it belongs
to legacy but the leaves
are different, here, they are yellow and burnt, 
here, they have fringe they are not verdant in their
burdening, bludgeoning, bursts of 
green for 	the man’s descent
his fall. but it wasn’t a fall. it is fall, here,
i hear someone sweep the porch
again of the fringe, empty the fringe

but, then,
it was the edge of summer,
and he was shot, his fall fated, his fall
a syndication, of 
black bodies falling, or
knelt on, throats
quieted, simply
these are
watched and 
seen and rendered
(in)visible. how could they 
(not) be
stolen. compressed. Here,

the trees whistle the same. Here,
the wind
opens	 	weeping —

image::buying cigarettes
image::selling cigarettes

image::walking home

falls through,
twenty-seven years old. i am
so young, 	           carrying his
her,	my
our names. my back is
soft and 
crooked, like this
oak tree, my coccyx sore
from balancing and spinning, calves at
ninety degree angles, i 
a dancer, i an entertainer 
for whom?		of Lester Horton
mandating my 
tension, compression, 	tightening of my spine
not unlike 
watching Topsy’s 
with their
ringed red wrists
acute 		death-acrobatic
angles		bends and
		snarled lips
	they don’t
scare me
	i can’t help 
but doubt 
to kill
		another Black girl, exactly like them? to take 
her innocence
				this rendition a twisted white imagination—

in 	fall	
i’m at an
exhaustive brink.		i ask

o mother, why am i so thirsty
for their stunted 

i pull green shards, 
gleaming in new
from the hushed black corridors 
of my throat, my mouth flushed 
in rose.

are rotted. how 
finicky fall 
	and finite 
the roof, sodden 
with the weight of the middle. 

i cry 
night, with eyes beckoning to close. i cry moon.
i cry
low sweet 
my, my
Victoria Stitt reads her work at the Fall 2022 Virtual Launch.

For more from the Fall 2022 special issue of MQR, “Fractured Union: American Democracy on the Brink,” you can purchase the issue here.

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