Phliando Castile was an African-American Nutrition Services Department supervisor at a Montessori School in suburban Minnesota. He was shot dead by police on July 6 after being stopped for a broken tail light. His girlfriend, Diamond Lavish Reynolds, immediately began narrating his murder on her phone (sent out via Facebook) as she sat beside him while he was dying in the car. Her four year old daughter, also in the car, witnessed everything.
This is for you, Diamond Lavish Reynolds,
before your name disappears among so many
others, before your voice
is forgotten, before you wake up
one morning, still just 24, your child
beside you, and find only the goneness
on the other side of the bed.This is for you
on the morning you wake and wonder
what you are going to do now
with your life, how you are going to talk
to the four-year-old child who saw the cop
fire the gun at Philando, the child you called
your “angel,” your first consolation.
This is for you when the news has stopped talking
about what happened, when the news has passed on
to other deaths.This is for you
in this country of guns, of cruelty, of dismissal;
for you, Diamond
Lavish Reynolds, on some humid morning
in August, as you push the blankets
away, your child
curled in sleep, so small,
and walk into the bathroom and look for the first
time in weeks carefully
at your face in the mirror, ask yourself how
you are going to live
now with only this absence,
one of your eyes consumed with grief, the other
with outrage.How can we hold this
with you, how can we make your tears not
another deleted narrative?
Anita Barrows is a poet, translator, and psychologist in Berkeley, California. She is a professor at The Wright Institute and maintains a private practice.