Slow, steady flame
warm golden glow
softening honey-scented beeswax.
Attaching carved metal votive holder
to the wood
of the altar.
Claiming the territory,
staking the past configuration
to the next.
Is that what’s coming? Conflagration? Certainly in the dry forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Then there’s the one-third of Pakistan that’s underwater.
How can I justify this slow, steady burn?
This gentle trickle of words onto the page?
This thoughtful arranging, and
I read in yesterday’s paper that André Brown was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison for the reckless homicide of eleven-year-old Anisa Scott, and for the attempted murder of her mother’s boyfriend two years ago. The theft of my bicycle earlier that year – when he was still only fifteen — is not even worthy of a footnote, of course, just a part of his “prior juvenile record.”
Don’s comment: I’m glad you weren’t hurt when you chased after him.
André is eighteen now. The article in the paper said his teacher said he’s been a pleasure to work with, that he finished his high school degree while awaiting sentencing. That was my impression of him when I attended the hearings after the bike theft, before the killing: That he was, when sober at least, a sweet young man. I tried to initiate restorative justice. Didn’t want him incarcerated. Regretted having called 911. Wrote about it. Spent weeks working on the piece, getting feedback, rewriting, planning to submit it for publication to a wider audience.
And then, the killing.
I felt a brief breath of relief, yesterday, to read that he will be locked away where, maybe, I could write to him and feel safe doing so. Then I tried to imagine what his life will be like. Thirty-five years. Does anyone deserve that? In thirty-five years he’ll be almost as old as I am now. If he lives that long. Though I imagine he’s more likely to live that long in prison than on the streets.
I feel sad. Helpless. Guilty. Of having access to slow, steady burning.
I feel scared. Of how badly we have fucked up our planet.
What was miraculously steady,
for the millennia it took us to evolve,
is returning to