Poetry Friday: To Bless the Memory of Tamir Rice

Thanks to  Margaret Simon at her blog, Reflections on the Teche

I posted this image and link on my Facebook feed earlier this week. It’s s powerful collection of poems for our world right now. These poems need to be shared.

This poem, “To Bless the Memory of Tamir Rice” really touched me. I can’t fathom losing a child, the fear of losing a son or daughter because of their skin tone, because they carried a toy gun, because they were in the at a park at the wrong time (because how can a park be a wrong place?)

To Bless the Memory of Tamir Rice
BY TSITSI ELLA JAJI

Plant twelve date palms in a ring around the tarmac. Make them
tall, slight towers, leaning into the wind as princes do. Fear that
the sweetness of dates will churn your stomach. Plant them anyways.

Plant the pudge of his fuzzless face in the arrested time of a school portrait.
Plant his exotic name—found in a book that spelled dreams
of eminence and hope for an uncertain coupling—in your ear.

Know that whether it leaches into the soil or not, this ground
was watered with his blood. This tarmac turned a rioting red. Strike that.
There was a screech of brakes, and sirens howling like a cliché, then

a volley of pops that might have been a game if only
what came next was not such utter silence.
The tarmac was red. There was no riot.

Build a circle of palms and something to keep them safe.
Build a greenhouse around the twelve palms.
Yes, a green house. This land is not our land.

Dig up the tarmac, the dark heavy loam of this side of town.
Be sure to wear gloves as you dig through the brownfield’s
mystification. Once the Cuyahoga River was a wall of fire.

God knows how rain melts metal.
Dig into that earth and build
a foundation. Quarry it.

Let the little boys and little girls of Shaker Heights and Orange
bring a Game Boy or cellphone, or other toy made our of coltan that,
chances are, a little boy or little girl dug up by hand in the DRC.

Let the children lay their shiny toys in the foundation.
Seal up ground with molten lead. Die-cast its melted weight.
Yes, make a typecaster’s mold, and leave it a dull grey, like flint.

Stamp out a broadside, only set it in the foundation’s floor.
Let us read the letter that says this officer was unfit.
Let us go over it step by step, every time we walk toward the green

house of imaging what this boy’s boyhood should have been,
the fulfilling of his name, his promise.
Plant an oasis here. How is not my problem.

Read the rest HERE.

What will you do to bless those who have died by the hands of brutality?

Sylvia Vardell has an excellent list of poets and books by Black poets for 2020 at her blog, Poetry for Children. Go there to find books to buy and give as give.

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7 Responses to Poetry Friday: To Bless the Memory of Tamir Rice

  1. maryleehahn says:

    What a powerful poem.

  2. lindabaie says:

    “Let us ask why we are still here.” is the question I keep asking. I imagine it may mean different things to different people, but to me, wondering in 2020, why? Thanks, Jone.

  3. margaretsmn says:

    Oh, that poem. If we could create a shelter for our children. Thanks for featuring this poem.

  4. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    Still getting over the shivers that ran up and down my spine reading this poem. Thanks for sharing it, Jone.

  5. janicescully says:

    It’s so important to remember and not forget these young people who won’t live their lives. Thank you for sharing this, Jone.

  6. That poem is a beautiful and bracing start to my Saturday morning, you know how you wake up and forget for a minute what other people’s lives are like?
    “Plant an oasis here. How is not my problem.”

  7. Mitchell Linda says:

    Oh, my. Jone….the poem for Tamir Rice. It’s incredible. I just want to go hug my youngest son right now. The loss of a child has to be the worst hurt. And, our Black mothers and fathers have been suffering with this kind of loss in this way all around us. Thank you for sharing this grouping of poems. I received it as well and hadn’t opened the link yet. It’s overwhelming all that suffering that has been poured into art that I haven’t taken note of. It’s time for that to change. Thank you for being part of my change.

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