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Ada Koch
Mother and Child
mixed media on canvas
3' x 3'

How to Mourn A Brown Boy
by Glenn North after Mother and Child by Ada Koch

Prepare while he is still alive

Know that from the moment

Your belly swelled with him

He was in the crosshairs.

Tell the boy to pull up his pants

To walk with purpose, pursue greatness

But know that it won’t protect him.

After expending your maternal energy

Realize there is a competing trilogy 

Of blood, bone and bullet.

If it has been 48 hours

Since your last phone conversation

Strengthen your index finger

For numerous redials.

Know his haunts as well as

His homies and his honeys

So they can be properly interrogated.

Have a statement prepared

For the reporters who pretend

To care, practice the 1000-yard stare 

So you can look into the camera

And plead with the perpetrator

To turn himself in.

Cry out for the folks in the neighborhood

Who saw something to come forward.

Don’t expect them to.

Save one tenth of all your earnings

To cover the reward money.

Stock up on candles and flowers

And teddy bears to adorn the shrine

Where you will find the body 

Outlined in chalk.

Discover the thin line between funeral and circus.

Every member of the family or community

Need not offer a eulogy.

Have an array of photos prepared 

For the Rest in Peace T-shirts

That will need to be printed.

Clear out cabinet space

For all the napkins, paper plates

And plastic cups that will be left over after

The crowd in your home disappears.

Learn to live with the silence.

Realize that in the darkest hour

A mother’s arms have the ability

To embrace ghosts.

Steel your heart against the moment

Each morning you awake

To the returning grief.

Arrive at the conclusion

That there is no substance

On earth that can fill the hole

But God can comfort the space around it.

Help the hood discern the difference

Between snitch and witness

Because senseless murder

Is everybody’s business.

Become initiated into the sorority

No woman wants to belong to.

Know that tomorrow

It will be another mother’s son

Inking the headlines.

Go to her. 

She will need you.

Mother and Child

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