Lena Stevens, Class of 2021
Take time to feel every passing.
Tangle yourself in empty sheets and
weep into pillows that wreak of jojoba and love lost.
Feel the waxy texture of weathered photographs between your fingertips and
watch each memory unfold in your trembling hands.
Stand in the doorway of an empty bedroom filled with dust and
mourn every moment spent on the outside of that threshold.
Sit alone in a crowded room and watch shadows dance across the floor
while hours fall around you like rain.
Collapse in the shower and
let every droplet of water daub you with sorrow.
Claw at your chest.
Gasp for air between gut-wrenching sobs.
Mourn every soul taken like it was your own.
Because it is.
If you are going to kill me,
turn your camera off.
Let no Black children stumble across my execution,
hold my life in the palm of their hands,
and weep into pixelated portrayals of my passing.
Let no parents fall to their knees during the morning news,
Then again at six, and again at ten.
Let no lover scroll through endless gunfire
everytime they unlock their phone.
Let me lace my fingers behind my head,
feel the gravel pierce my knees,
and make one last request.
If you are going to kill me, do it only once.
Turn your camera off.