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

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 
pass–  
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

the same images 
cascade 
in their 
transposition
imposition
(im)precision—

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

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 
brazenly
freely 
serving 
	peace and
	justice, who is 
self-appointed security
looking for irregularity, identifying it in
joggers 
breathers 
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 
nascent
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::running
image::sleeping
image::buying cigarettes
image::selling cigarettes

image::walking home

falls through,
twenty-seven years old. i am
so young, 	           carrying his
their 
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 
body(’s)
tension, compression, 	tightening of my spine
not unlike 
watching Topsy’s 
with their
ringed red wrists
dangling
acute 		death-acrobatic
angles		bends and
		snarled lips
	they don’t
scare me
	i can’t help 
but doubt 
their
			intent 
to kill
		another Black girl, exactly like them? to take 
her innocence
				this rendition a twisted white imagination—

take 	
these— 	
lips
		faltering 
in 	fall	
i’m at an
exhaustive brink.		i ask

o mother, why am i so thirsty
for their stunted 
water? 

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

the 
leaves
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
swing
low sweet 
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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