by Natasha Oladokun

The next time they kill one of us you may be assured
that your life will still proceed as it always has—at night
you will drive back home with the same level of risk
you have always driven with, and you will have
the same likelihood of being stopped and looked over
as has always been your lot, which is to say, you will be read
quicker than God’s Day of Judgment, but whatever
happens—remember this—it has already been decided
for you whether or not you will sleep where you have always slept:
with your beloved, near your children, or in the sweet quiet
of your own solitude, and you may continue to rest assured
that even when I’ve pulled down my skirt
hem to a respectable length as I’ve been taught, hands spread
on the wheel as I’ve been taught, license unmistakable
on the dashboard’s black skillet as I’ve been taught, slow-braised
offering of obedience laid out as I’ve been taught, knees braced
to drop on command as I’ve been taught while praying nothing
is seen as hidden or brandished, that when I speak of terror
striking it is not now nor has it ever been a figure of speech,
nor has any other observance of hunter and hunted,
where the body so readily gives, already kneeling, open and
bloodshot as an exit wound’s petaled lips.

Published on December 27, 2017