150 Tons

For the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson

It would take more than 1500 human hearts,
suggests National Geographic’s Facebook feed,
to equal the weight of a blue whale’s heart.

We’re going to need a more precise reckoning.
Do you think when black lives taken in one year
add up to the weight of that number

someone will finally say
shit this is what we were waiting for?
Or what about my baleened heart,

how it strains and strains for a glimpse
of light in your deaths. Small lamprey
along the mitral valve whispering

there must be some redemption here.
I could light a candle to oil lamp,
paint your names illuminated

in tomorrow’s histories, modern-day saints
dying for a white man’s love of hate. Such comfort
rings hollow. No sanctity here.

At the last, did you shelter in your own heart
beating out its final psalm, or song of war,
surrendering every memory of love,

blood swimming for the shore of a poison trench?
What words could dare try to float
among these flames, burning oil on water?

It’s not enough for me to say I remember you.
To say We’re drowning without your song.
To say Forgive us. We know exactly what we do,

we just can’t say it out loud.
In dream, your psalms are made of light.
Beneath, we hear the blinded pulse. 

Poet, essayist, and translator Ann Davenport also serves as a reader for QuillsEdge Press. Ann hand-published three chapbooks: ends & beginnings (2000), riparian (2003), and love (2007). An MFA candidate in Poetry and Poetry in Translation at Drew University, Ann’s creative nonfiction was recently published in the Colorado Springs Independent.