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?