the daughter

                  after police shot and killed Philando Castile on 7/7/16

 

it’s okay, Mommy. I’m right here with you,

I say, but I’m not there anymore. I’ve grown

my fingernails long enough to scratch,

 

pick at every hair in my head. you say

he’s dead. he died inside the car with you

and me—I didn’t hear him moving around

 

the apartment last night—don’t own a gun.

you say he was a good man. he wouldn’t like

my pulling out my eyelash, eyebrow, arm hair

 

now. now, Mommy, it’s okay. I know you

remember me with hair, braids with colored,

plastic balls settled at the top, nested in black—

 

waves of lotioned hair, then—my braid undone,

and the hair tie, loosed so, like everything else

that comes after this disease. they say

 

it is compulsive, signaling unease, but I

can’t seem to get to its root. this habit to pull

past pain—to remove something from me.

 

it’s okay, Mommy. I’m right here with you. they

tell me it is reversible—something that can be treated

like wood—which can keep a structure beautiful

 

for years. when building a thing to stand

for a while—the body of a man, for instance—

to stand without talking back, as some have

 

unfortunately—it is best to use pressure.

according to the pamphlet on my kitchen

counter, these walls are not crawling with insects.

 

it says our building is treated by people

I can’t seem to name, but I know

I heard him, Mommy. I hear him. do you?