This Day Our Daily Dead

This Day Our Daily Dead
                     after Naomi Shihab Nye

We wonder and worry what it will take for
our country women and men to feel again

this tender gravity, this pull of and toward
kindness, the way we did when we were

very young children. We do not need our
passports, we need not travel beyond our

borders, giving ourselves this day our daily
dead as we do, rarely really seeing them

though, protected as we agree to be from the
truth of what we do and who we are. Twenty

first-graders are not enough, yet another
unarmed black man or ambushed cop is not

enough, concert and movie goers and dancers
are not enough, a shopper, bus driver and

landscaper, still not enough, high school
students, not enough. We don’t know if it will

ever be time to look at the images no one wants
to see because they’re too disturbing, unless

they’re broken-or-burned-beyond-recognition
un-American bodies, but our relentless refusal

to look deeply at what’s disturbing is itself
disturbing. Our terrified turning away from

what is traps us ever more tightly in it, as if
that ever-growing malignancy will on its own

dissipate and disappear if we make believe it’s
not there, even though we feel its pressure

within our hearts every moment. Peek-a-boo, it
says. How much more of me do you need? How

much bigger do I need to be before you admit
I’m part of you, and you have the will to do

what has to be done to remove me, before the
lost voice of that vulnerable child within you

is truly able to remember and say, all gone?
How much more? Will you ever be enough?

Note: After Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Kindness” – especially “Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness / you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho / lies dead by the side of the road.”

Copyright © 2018 by Reggie Marra. From Killing America: Our United States of Ignorance, Fear, Bigotry, Violence and Greed (September 2018).

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