Thirty-Three Weeks

– With lines from Albert Camus

Nine dead in Charleston, S.C.—
a black church, a white boy, and his gun.
One always finds one’s burden again.
No one will stand for your mother
on the bus—a small thing, a nothing.
A generational trend.

The Rhodesian flag on the boy’s coat
pivots me back to our day in Zimbabwe,
lowballing cabbies and purchasing
comical bank notes. And the falls, of course,
Victoria Falls. Sisyphus returning toward
his rock. A blind man eager to see who knows
that the night has no end. A generational trend.

At the party your mother stands by my chair
until a stranger offers theirs. You came on slow,
in stages. Sometimes I forget you’re there
or forget you ever weren’t.

The debate tonight is gun control
and hate. But no one disagrees. We see.
Past midnight your mother turns to me,
that slight pivoting, and I know it’s time to leave
Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain.

We bus home sober, standing.
We hold you in her belly, one hand each,
the others on the pole, as the bus lurches
and rolls. I distract her with our stories
from the falls: Livingstone in bronze,
the water falling without end.

Women and children and men
returning for the funerals. That subtle moment
when man glances backward over his life.
The same pews. Generational trends.

Here you are, in our hands. We’ve found you again.
Growing, always growing, even after you’re gone.





First published in Carte Blance (Winter 2016).

Read more poems from The News.