"For Emmanuel"

by Christine Gardiner

All I know is that we had crossed over
the Point Street Bridge and were passing
through the south side of our medium
New English city. It was a blinding white
weekday—summer—but not yet
the 4th of July. I was driving.
You were riding shotgun.
We were arguing
over nothing—a song on the radio—and
had come to a regular intersection when

a gunshot broke open the daylight.

The ancient alarm, winnowing
red epileptic blue lights.
The pointed movement
of a uniformed man with a gun
pointed at a man in a car.
This is America. The car was
a common make and model.
The men fit their standard descriptions.

We felt the thundering gunfire
and then like slow-motion granular
video, the car door was open
and one man was down on the ground

We didn't know which way to turn.
We were both twenty years old, overgrown
school children with no sense of direction.
Later, you told me that you wanted
to jump out of the car and yell, "Stop!"
but I was afraid to drive into the crossfire.
I almost put the car in reverse but
knew we could never go back
the way we came. In the end,
we just passed through
the intersection and went home.

We fled the scene but can't get away
from ourselves. It was still Tuesday
afternoon, but even the light
in the kitchen looked dimmer
because now I knew what we always
suspected was true: where there is
no witness, there is no victim
and this history has always
been happening.


 

 

 Christine Gardiner has a MFA in the Literary Arts from Brown University and PhD in Poetry from the University of Denver. Her first book of poems, My Sister's Father, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press, and she works as an Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at the College of New Rochelle, School of New Resources, where she is edified by her students and their stories. 

 

 

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