after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
—W. S. Merwin
A blanket of fresh snow
makes any neighborhood idyllic.
Dearborn Heights indistinguishable from Baldwin Hills,
South Central even—
until a thawing happens and residents emerge
into the light. But it almost never snows in L.A.,
and snows often in this part of Michigan—
a declining wonderland, a place not to stand out
or be stranded like Renisha was.
Imagine a blonde daughter with a busted car
in a suburb where a brown homeowner
(not taking any chances)
blasts through a locked door first,
checks things out after—
around the clock coverage and the country beside itself
instead of the way it is now,
so quiet like a snowy night
and only the grief of a brown family (again)
around the Christmas tree, recalling
memories of Renisha playing
on the front porch, or catching flakes
as they fall and disappear
on her tongue.
They are left to imagine
what her life might have been.
We are left to imagine the day
it won't require imagination
to care about all of the others.
About this Poem
"So I'm thinking about these kind of tragedies in particular, here and now...this dangerous root our country still struggles mightily to pull. The nature of empathy vs. sympathy, the former requiring a vulnerability that's hard for many people to risk. And the illusory nature of snow--how this word is also used to describe someone who's been duped, and the cold truths often covered beneath it."
—Kamilah Aisha Moon
Kamilah Aisha Moon
Kamilah Aisha Moon is the author of Starshine & Clay (Four Way Books, 2017). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Date Published: 2014-02-03
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/imagine