Stolen

by Staff Writer Britni Sharde

This evening, I have borrowed my tears
from my ancestors.
What has plagued my mother
and haunts my father
has fertilized the soil on which we stand.
My feet meet the history of anguish and terror.
My heart beats of generationally suppressed grief.
Someone has stolen
the experience of love and loving from us
and the bodies that encapsulate that love
have been hidden for almost a century.
Dennis Blacksmith, male, 17, black and missing since May 31, 1921.
Last seen attempting to rescue his neighbor from the airplanes that interrupted their slumber.
Sue Ellen Franks, female, 36, black and missing since May 31, 1921.
Last seen searching for her son, whom she knows awoke and ran, but in which direction did he escape?
Chuck Johnson, male, 46, black and missing since June 1, 1921.
Last seen trying to protect his family business.
Annabelle Freeman, female, 28, black and missing since June 1, 1921.
Last seen warning neighbors, begging them to head north, for hatred personified had declared itself hostile towards we, the people.
Earl Watson, male, 22, black and missing since May 31, 1921.
Last seen holding the corpse of his baby girl who was murdered in front of him.
Barbara Ann Ellis, female, 16, black and missing since June 1, 1921.
Last seen searching for her mother, Rose.
Someone has stolen
the experience of love and loving from us
and the bodies that encapsulate that love
have been hidden for almost a century.
Your great-grandmother’s son.
My uncle’s daughter.
My neighbor’s husband.
His sister’s best friend.
Her cousin’s neighbor.
My brother.
War has been declared on the color of our skin
and the casualties of that war have been
the innocent.
Have been the blameless.
Have been our sons.
Have been our daughters.
Have been our brothers.
Have been our sisters.
Have been the loved.
Have been the unashamed.
Have been the successful.
Have been the families.
Have been their businesses.
Have been their homes.
Someone has stolen
the experience of love and loving from us
and the bodies that encapsulate that love
have been hidden for almost a century.

Illustration: Patrick Norman