Subway poem #4

Subway rides, growing longer and more crowded, provide plenty of time to reflect on current events. This one is for the survivors of Parkland, Florida. 

"Things Fall Apart"

The most striking part of
Nigerian tribal life in
Chinua Achebe’s book was not
The shamans and ghostly rituals.
It was when Ekwefi, a young mother,
Said of her beloved daughter
(The only survivor of ten babies),
“Perhaps she is here to stay.”
Meaning, on earth. 
“I pray she stays.”
I remember thinking,
What a savage place, 
Where mothers are resigned to lose their children. 
Again and again.

Even non-mothers know
A youthful death
Is a cosmic wrong. 
I learned this when
I saw a college friend in her coffin,
And knew with the truth of
My young being that
This body, thick with disease, 
was not her. 
She had been a dancer,
A breathtaking one, 
Springing off the stage
Like a willow branch off the breeze.
But now she was elsewhere, resting.

Those left behind do not rest.
Dead children leave living parents with
Hearts shrouded in a black ivy, 
A suffocating growth with knifed edges. 
When a fourth grader at church
Was taken by cancer,
Her father wept on a blog.
I read once then turned away,
Unwilling to watch him struggle
To breathe in the darkness.

Every time tender American souls
Are cut down by American bullets,
I wonder how Chinua Achebe would frame This moment
In our history. 
I think he would be confused, 
And repulsed. 
Because unlike disease or foreign invaders,
It is we who are killing our young.

We can stop. 
But we don’t. 
Instead, mothers send their treasures to school,
Hoping that they will stay
Alive. 
Who is the savage now?
America falls apart.