How Sudden Dies the Blooming

For Paula Cooper and all the other children on death row, cir. 1989

How sudden dies the blooming
One instant’s crass confusion
             An err of hand
of heart and head
A bent decision then
                           and now
one instant in the past as
             constant present
Rarely out of reach the act
Tethered to some unrelenting
                        infinite recall
             Today’s reality
in yesterday’s precise and fine
One moment’s cruel confusion
carved forever in the spirit’s
             tender steel
How sudden dies the blooming
How withered lies the promise
             lies the reach
                 the blind potential
         All that lingers in the breathing
Is a warp of understanding
A fist of clear confusion
And a desperate 
                 A frightened
                     To live ….  

From Continuum: New and Selected Poems (Just Us Books, Inc., 2007 and 2014) by Mari Evans. Copyright © 2007 and 2014 by Mari Evans. Used with the permission of the Estate of Mari Evans.