Midnight Air in Louisville

for Breonna Taylor

Dear Breonna,
How many times, I ask,
           how many times
have I chased the thought
                      of writing to you,
of catching the poem where
                      it cannot leave,
of knocking open the door to a grief
           we all hold, our hearts
full of questions.
           We leave our houses to work,
to look for what we need to live,
                      or what we need
           to make the pain go away,
and your voice rises:
           “Oh hell to the no,
no he didn’t,
           Satan get behind me,
whatever, whatever
           the hell you think you are.”

I imagine that in leaving 
all of us you said:
           “I am done
I am let out into the world,
           breath I took in from it
breath that I give back in love.”

May I see you in flight
filling the space
           beyond clouds and stars
where there is no need
           of sun or moon, where
a grand city lives
           in prophecies beaten
by the wheels of history
where you are not invisible
           to ancestors who saw
these long roads down through time
to this one night in Louisville.

                      Bright Angel,
Luminescence, Woman Who Saved Lives
in Emergency Rooms,
                      Invocation of Heaven’s Law,
Living Song Riding
                                 the Eternal Dawn.

These titles I summon from license
given by Eternal Mysteries to hold you.
Fly now, in the woven air of the saints.


Copyright © 2022 by Afaa Michael Weaver. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

The murder of Breonna Taylor was especially disturbing, so much so that I settled on the epistolary form, which allowed me to expand my metaphysical imagining of where she might be.”
Afaa Michael Weaver