A man leaves the world and the streets he lived on grow a little shorter. One more window dark in this city, the figs on his branches will soften for birds. If we stand quietly enough evenings there grows a whole company of us standing quietly together. overhead loud grackles are claiming their trees and the sky which sews and sews, tirelessly sewing, drops her purple hem. Each thing in its time, in its place, it would be nice to think the same about people. Some people do. They sleep completely, waking refreshed. Others live in two worlds, the lost and remembered. They sleep twice, once for the one who is gone, once for themselves. They dream thickly, dream double, they wake from a dream into another one, they walk the short streets calling out names, and then they answer.
Fifty years before you did your homework in Ferguson
we did our homework in Ferguson, thinking life was fair.
If we didn’t do our homework we might get a U—Unsatisfactory.
Your dad says you didn’t even get to see the rest of the world yet.
I’ve seen too much of the world and don’t know
how to absorb this—a girl shot through a wall—U! U! U!
I’d give you some of my years if I could—you should not
have died that night—there was absolutely no reason
for you to die. I’d like to be standing in a sprinkler with you,
the way we used to do, kids before air conditioning,
safe with our friends in the drenching of cool,
safe with our shrieks and summer shorts and happy hair,
where can we go without thinking of you now?
Did you know there was a time Ferguson was all a farm?
It fed St. Louis…giant meadows of corn, sweet potatoes,
laden blackberry bushes, perfect tomatoes in crates,
and everything was shovels and hoes, and each life,
even the little tendril of a vine, mattered,
and you did your homework and got an S for Satisfactory,
Super, instead of the S of Sorrow now stamped on our hands.