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Felecia Sanders’s Granddaughter, 5

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.

from Starshine & ClayFind more by Kamilah Aisha Moon at the library

Copyright © 2017 Kamilah Aisha Moon
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Kamilah Aisha Moon Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.