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Come Forth

A poem

Published on:
November 19, 2018
Read time:
2 min.
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I expected more blood

That it would be more dramatic
to see a heart
that’d been stopped
by a bullet
I expected more fanfare

That when they gave up on your life
they wouldn’t step back
so calmly
They wouldn’t start laughing
so quickly
I expected you 

To feel dead

But it hadn’t been long enough
so your hair was soft
your skin was warm
your body
so present
while your soul was so gone
Did it leave 

When the shot tore through your flesh
to make room in your chest for the bullets?
Did it disappear
during CPR
or hang on ‘til they decided 
you wouldn’t survive
your mother 

didn’t believe I had watched you die
until I knew your hair was flecked with white
I tried to tell her
that I’d said goodbyes
she should have been let in to say
that I touched you
because you were made
in God’s image
because death is an enemy
because your blood had dripped on the floor
because I wanted God
to receive you into his hands
I whispered 

Psalm 23 in a trauma room
and tried to believe God had stayed with you in your valley
that the cops who had chased you
had been on the heels of goodness and mercy
that you were in God’s house
but your mother’s house
was shadowed by death

Sometimes I drive down her street
because I don’t know where you lived
but I know where I told her the story
I know the living room I left
so they could grieve without my gaze

Because I didn’t know your birthday
just your ending

And the haze of that loss has not lifted
There are no bottles at family funerals for trauma room tears
So this year

I have wandered
outdoors with your face
walked the trails in your part of town
sat on rocks
and by rivers 

I’ve gone dark
where the sun shines
and learned the lines
of silence

I keep turning things off

I climb to the edges of cliffs
and press my ear to the willows
I bury my hands in the earth
I wander 

Wonder
are you with me

I remember to water my plants 

I do the work of grief
and garden this red soil
Did they collect your blood
for eastern Oklahoma
Is it on my hands

When I am still
outdoors
sometimes
I hear the ground grieving the dust you have returned
like only the earth remembers
how much is lost

I go home

I stare at living bodies
try to marvel
that life is a wonder
outlined at crime scenes 
I touch the living more often
reach for the babies of friends
plant flowers for my neighbors
and hang all my hopes
on this city

Being made new.
I insist 

On resurrection,
and sit still enough
to be the first
to hear you stirring.

I watched you die
I passed you into God’s hands
So I remember your body
and wait to watch it live

I drive past your mother’s house,
and I say your name

Miriam Boone
Miriam Boone lives in Tulsa with her husband Nate, where they’re raising their two kids and trying to love their neighbors as themselves. She earned a Master’s degree in practical theology from The University of St. Andrews, works at a nonprofit called One Hope Tulsa, and volunteers as a chaplain for the Tulsa Police Department. You can find her at her local church or on Twitter and Instagram @headingtonhill.

Cover photo by LoboStudio Hamburg.

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