On the Last Day, the Bullet is Asked
How was I supposed to know
Medgar? I only met the man once
and even then, freshly fallen,
back flesh a sea split red
with god’s permission. I do
as I am asked and no more—
back, chest, window, wall, sinew,
bone glass, brick—as quick as it
began. For you so loved the son
of man, you begat the sweat-swaddled
plunk of viscera on concrete. And man
so loved the silence he begat the close
hold of a barrel, the blank stare cutting
clean to the other side: a family and greens
on the table two low beds where
stuffed animals still hold the child-
smell of milk, baby powder, Ovaltine.
Outside, the Magnolias, whispering.
Inside, the silence locking in place.
Copyright © 2021 by Sadia Hassan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.