Mother Emmanuel AME, Charleston, SC, 6.17.15
It was so hot & she promised
we could get ice cream on the way home.
I never saw him at Bible study before.
He didn’t smile & I didn’t want to say hi
because he was a stranger & Mom said
don’t talk to strangers, especially men
you don’t know but Grandma told me to be nice.
There was popping like firecrackers.
I looked up from coloring & saw
his mouth was a line & people were
falling, red blooms on pastor’s white shirt.
Grandma grabbed me & we hit the carpet.
“Play dead baby. Play dead.” The words hot
& soft in my ear. We lay real still. Face down,
we held our breath a long long time, longer
than I can even count.
I heard “No!” & “Please,” calling on the Lord.
Where were you, Jesus? We pray to you
all of the time & this is your house!
Click-clack, more pops & screams.
Grandma was on top of me, warm.
Perfume, powder, sweat & smoke
stung my nose. I felt her heart
beating fast, so fast like after I run
but there was no where to run.
Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.