top of page

Mezzo Soprano

For Tyre Nichols and Veronica Williams

They say there’s video;

I don’t want to see.

I hate these movies where another black brother dies.

I consider the man and the woman who made him;

I curse the men that unmade him.

I curse the silence of I, and America, America.

How we till our rich killing power.

How we stamp our silky-dew rags, our many strands of black curls

beneath the steeled-toed boot, beneath the iron hearts of power.


They say there’s video.

It’s enough to tear a real heart apart and lay it dying on the lawn.

So much blood runs out on these streets, caught in the hands, in the aprons

              of mother, the sister, in the name of the father.

There’s too much blood that’s watered this soil.

We think it goes nowhere.

But it's slaked the roots’ thirst and made our ghosts stronger.


They say there’s a video.

I don’t want to see.

On flickering screens, he was too much to be. 


Time could stop.


Breath could cease.


I would understand

if this mezzo soprano before me

never sang another note

and hung her shrouded soul in dark.


But there’s a bird rattling in her lungs.

It has to get free.

The louder the strings sing all around her,

the harder the wings beat to flee.

Despite all this darkness, despite all this murder,

she lifts her heart’s corners.

              “We shall overcome,” she sings.

In the embrace of strings, in the sun beat of fields,

              the bird flutters free.

bottom of page