The Wailing

By Leticia del Toro

For the families of Trayvon Martin, Jordan, Tamir Rice, Andy Lopez, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and all the others we may not know.

I stood at my brother’s burial site and moved
so someone stronger than me
could hold my mother back,
all of her leaning into the lowering
We, the living, there to keep her in this world.

We kept arcing little bits of ourselves
in between the loads of earth
we could not let him go, one more photo, one more rose
a ribbon follows, a kerchief, a child’s stuffed tiger
and hold on to the mother, bury him already
I can’t stand to see her kneeled at the edge
The wailing raged, a soundless scream,
more like a freight train,
more like a mother quake, the fault lines of fury collide
a woman who buries a son must feel
those first fetal flutters then full term feet
to ribs, rewinding ghost baby
threads of milk flow counter earth-wise,
I fed you to live and you leave me
You hear all of her:
liquefy, disentwine, unroot
forget the ashes, forget the dust
the universe pulls you inside out
you want to go with your birth blood.

The wailing is all
sound disappears only heaving and heartwork
I see the mothers and fathers in photo stills.
Biblical tragedy, a roaring pose
I will not play the clips, I know the sound
A father upright in his bed at 4AM
pure rage storms the house
echoing two floors below
they took the son, he is bereft
of a reason to live, no matter how
many children remain.
Rage has no words, immeasurable flight
fury moves you, fury follows
the wailing multiplied is this movement now
the will to follow whether son, brother, father
daughter, child, sister, oldest friend
lover you can never become
Keep moving, stay above ground
pace that place and take direction
move the world and let the waves resound