Tuesday, June 15, 2021

NOTE: On March 26, 2018, Jennifer Hart drove herself, her wife, Sarah, and their six adopted Black children off of a Pacific coast cliff in Mendocino, CA, after nearly a decade of documented abuse allegations. Devonte Hart, the 15-year old pictured in this viral photo, is the only child whose body has not been found. All personas are fictionalized.

Six months after my son’s birth
I read of six Black children killed at sea
They are driven over a cliff, plummet 100
feet until the crash is swallowed by cymbal
waves At dusk I startle awake to their wails,
my leaden body frozen in icy free fall.

Oceans salt my eyes, emotions roll
waves as I read six names, grief in whale
song. Six months after Glory’s birth –
when he shot out in a tunnel of forceful
sea water – I am thinking of his little feet
My palm across his chest’s rise and fall.

How long it might have felt – this fall –
a chorus of jostled bodies in jeep’s
berth sang final songs to the depths of whales.
Did the Atlantic stretch to kiss Pacific sea?
Does muscle tear from bone at the force of a wave?
Their feet. What remained were their feet.

In nightmare, the “mothers” tell me this was a feat –
They wax heroic, won’t let these children fall
into any other hands. Their crackhead mamas
waived their rights, did nothing more than give birth.
Neighbors see. Teachers see. Nurses see:
six children shrink. Their skin raises like corduroy wales

they rummage through trash bins as hunger wails.
The “mothers” make these six march in single file,
feet haunted by shackles. Is that a child I see?
Is there some rest that comes with the fall?
Does the roaring tide feel like
rebirth As bloodied bodies fold into a wave?

There are child cries in sea gull wails.
They are drowned out by white noise waves.
I churn and churn, weep ceaselessly.
Sea salt stings my cheeks. I ritual let
tears fall as five onyx headstones sink
12,000 feet. Where do water graves
make berth?

            for Markis, 19.
            for [Devonte], 15.
            for Hannah, 16.
            for Jeremiah, 14.
            for Abigail, 14.
            for Ciera, 12.