The lotus grows out of the mud

for Dr. Brian Williams

On my last days in Singapore
where Mandarin and Malay
live in skyscrapers adorned

by waterfalls and swimming pools
where guns are illegal
and schools praise the arts

CNN blasts a story of Philando Castile
murdered in his car
with his four-year-old watching

his girlfriend handcuffed
her IPhone bleeding.
My mind careens to Trayvon Martin

now tied for eternity
with Amadou Diallo and Emmett Till
Coltrane’s sax ribboning their graves.

I speed dial my hoodie wearing
gender bending daughter
my tall tall Trinidadian son,

are you okay, can you stay inside
is there a sliver of safety you can slip into
until maybe, forever?

My daughter protests, my son posts bullet-proof vests
for Nike to market with sneakers
and I’m sinking.

No yoga helps
forget vinyasa, no swimming
no bo bo cha cha

no talking, no prayer
depressed is a light weight term.
I wrestle inside despair’s temple

thrash through the night
until morning breaks itself open
CNN brings us a surgeon from Dallas

in his white coat
as he travels down the corridor
sterile to the point of empty

to cameras the size of faces
to the podium
his eyes round like bellies toward the sun

his hands trembling
as he reaches for his pen in his pocket
leaving it there.

Face to the camera
his countenance finding his medical degree
shoulders still at half mast

his hands the ones
that held the cops’ hearts
still on the table.

He tries to speak
his breath halting
about raising his daughter to respect the police

his knowing the terror
of being seen as a target
his anguish for police he couldn’t save

his wanting the madness to stop in this moment
double consciousness clothed
in a Black surgeon’s life

his eyes lakes
filled with mercy and pain
his hands now doves caressing the air.

By Becky Thompson
August, 2016

Read the poem, The Lotus in the Mud,” Nonviolence Magazine, Winter/spring 2018