Culture | Inkwell

A poem for Troy Davis

Troy Davis was executed by the American state of Georgia on September 21, 2011.  A black man, he was convicted of the murder of white police officer Mark MacPhail, though evidence remained inconclusive, and the murder weapon was never found.

 

there are flowers on the altar of my rib cage

for you, Troy;

not dead ones, not

the wilting ghosts of memory on the lid of a casket,

but live,

weedlike, opening

like hands.

 

not because i knew you personally, Troy,

but because i didn’t.  because when they killed you,

people who didn’t know you, like me,

had to open our

eyes

ears

hands

mouths

when they killed you, we

cried

coughed

shuddered

gasped

and little sparks flew out of our bodies:

 

the memory of mothers, whispering in infant ears,

whispering in accents, bad grammar, forgotten languages,

whispering through the bloody aftermath of

labour

violence

scraped knees

broken glass

knuckles,

“you can be anything you want to be, little one,

my baby,

in this country, anything you

want,”

 

MLK in grainy footage, proclaiming,

“Land where my fathers died,

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,

From every mountainside

Let freedom ring,”

 

a dream that i was climbing up the stairs

to the musical sound of

coins

falling from my pockets and covering

everything

and at the top there was a window

and there were bars on it

and down below there were a

thousand tiny

candle flames

 

little sparks that

flew out of this world when they killed you,

and we won’t get them

back; they

are yours now,  small lights burning

in the place wherever you are.

you became the difference

between promises and prayers,

Troy.

now we know it.

 

i never knew you,

Troy,

but still, there are flowers on the altar

of my rib cage for you;

not dead ones,

but live,

growing in salt water.

 


Comments posted on The McGill Daily's website must abide by our comments policy.
A change in our comments policy was enacted on January 23, 2017, closing the comments section of non-editorial posts. Find out more about this change here.