Sleeper

 

I slept through the death of Jesus Rios.

Ted heard the shots, sat up in the dark,

listened for more. A car may have sped off

but nothing else. We sleep with the air conditioner fan

on year-round, to mask the noise of traffic and gunfire,

so I couldnít say if thereís been a lot of gunfire lately,

late at night, when the bars get out, when the cars

race by. We do it on purpose so we can

sleep the few hours we need. But it's hard

to believe, when the shots went off maybe forty

feet away, and Jesus caught them

in the gut or chest or head and probably made some

kind of sound, I slept on.

His assailant, his shooter held

the gun still in one or two hands and saw what he had

accomplished. Did he make a sound, say anything?

Did he grimace, did he grin? Did his heart race?

Skin grow cold with perspiration? How does that

feel to see Jesus drop and slump and curl in

the quiet Sunday morning? Was there any motive,

any personal reason, some transgression of Jesus'

against this other guy? Or was he taken surprised,

innocent, just because he was there

as they drove up to the corner, the red light.

Should I try to find out? Was he a gangster

living next door? We not knowing, smiling as we

walked past his yard to the store. Either way,

should I take one of these roses Dianne gave us,

add it to his cardboard sidewalk altar

with those of the mothers and girls and children

who go by to the store, stop to read the memorial notes,

study the photo of Jesusí smiling face.

 

Carol Colin

 


Carol Colin writes for the same reasons she paints: because following your own words or images as they race to fill a white rectangle is a bigger thrill than riding the Viper at Six Flags; because one person sharing your poem or painting is more satisfying than a plateful of baked-'til-crisp macaroni and cheese.


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