The first time I slid down a slide my mother
told me to hold my hands towards the sky.
Something about gravity, weight distribution,
& feeling the air ripple through your fingers.
I remember reaching the bottom, smile consuming
half of my face, hands still in the air because
I didn’t want it to stop. Ever since, this defiance
of gravity has always been synonymous with feeling alive.
When I read of the new child, his body strewn across
the street, a casket of bones & concrete, I wonder how
many times he slid down the slide. How many times
he defied gravity to answer a question in class. Did he
raise his hands for all of them? Does my mother regret
this? That she raised a black boy growing up to think
that raised hands made me feel more alive. That raised hands
meant I was alive. That raised hands meant I would live.
This poem originally appeared in Still: The Journal.