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Thursday, June 18, 2020


by Claudine Cain

for Ahmaud Arbery

I did not write poems that night. My hands were as cold as my feet and I had to help mother’s sons find their way. I had heard the news, but some things are easier to know than see. Sometimes the children tarry too long in the place where it happens, after. I had to hold his hands, speak in the music of tongues he had forgotten, and wipe away his fears. I asked him if he knew that Jericho Brown was going to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry.

He said, no | yes.

I asked him if he’d like to stay or go back and, perhaps, be a poet too.

He said, I am.

I thanked him for remembering. He wanted to stay then, to let all of the warmth that never ends find its way back into him. So he sat down between mother’s knees and rested his head in her lap. She sang a song and began counting the strands of his hair.

He wanted to know, if it wasn’t too much trouble, if it would be possible for him to have wings.

Mother said, yes.

Claudine Cain lives in North Carolina where she attends UNC Greensboro. She is the former editor of Black Elephant literary journal. Her fiction, art, and poetry have appeared in Riggwelter, Eunoia Review, Dime Show Review, Public Pool, and elsewhere.