by Yesika Salgado
When they found you Jesse, I understood why you ran
who hasn’t been afraid of the cops these days?
who hasn’t panicked at the sight of their guns drawn on sight?
what brown and black boys haven’t been called weapon before being called boy?
how many mothers faces haven’t we met on the 11 o’clock news, tear streaked and tired?
my cousin and I drove down highland park the other day
the police had two brown boys against a fence
I said your name like a prayer, Jesse
you, the new patron saint of who we want to come home
I have loved so many boys like you before
beautiful brown boys with names they trusted their city to hold
their aerosol cans rattling in their pockets or backpacks
they all just wanted to live forever. I know you did too.
your Mami says you were a good boy
and I believe her
the city does too, Jesse
we’ve been saying your name
we’ve been asking for justice
we’ve been holding all the fourteen year old boys closer
kissing them good morning and goodnight
lives somewhere amongst them now
I have a nephew your age
his name is Andrew
the last time I was over,
I listened as he talked about a recent trip
he hugged his mother as she walked by the couch
he let his little sister lean on his lap
I wanted to cry the whole time
is there a word for the grief
when all the bodies
look like the people
you love most?
I don’t know the things I used to know anymore
all I can offer
is this poem
this votive candle
with your name
I’ve been told your mother is still waiting for your body
that the money isn’t enough
that she never planned to bury her son
and my heartbreaks all over again
what is the word for loving someone past
tired and murdered and angry and injustice
and helpless and tired again
so tired again
you must be that word