by Ali McClain

the day after the baby is killed
by a gunshot wound to the chest

you still have to ride behind
death’s blood red breath.

you still have to picture
the baby in the car trying

to grab the bullet as if it were
a glossy sweet thing.

you do not want to imagine
the pitch of the baby’s wail.

you do not want to see the women
walking with bright white Save-A-Lot

bags wrapped around their wrists.
you do not want to see the man

at the RTA bus stop swatting at a bee.
you do not want to see

anyone trying to hurt anything.
you do not want to face

the red lights, the teddy bear memorials,
the trash, the raggedy strollers, the slow

slow walk of the low-down folks.
you do not want to ride by

the hand painted Casino Trip! sign
stapled high on a pole like a goal.

you do not want to hear the radio
scroll through tragedy and woe.

you hear the beginning of the word
Oregon and you know the next

stories will be about more shootings.
you think about the baby killed by the bullet.

Originally published in Belt (Fall 2016).

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