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Why Can’t He Breathe?” A Mother’s Cry

Knees gripped, Teeth gritted
Huff, Huff, Puff, Puff
Bear down with all your strength
Push! Push! Push!

Forcing life into existence
Break and breathe
Cry and heave
Grip and grit
Huff and puff
Push! Push! Push!

Ring of fire burning me alive
Flesh tearing as your blood mingles with mine
Grip and grit
Huff and puff
Bear down baby
C’mon…push lady!

The sound of fluid and flesh
Sliding over one another as we mesh
And separate one from the other
I fall back to catch my breath
And I wait...

To hear you...catch yours too…

And I wait…

To hear you…


As I await...your voice…

The lack of sound…

Uneasy noise…

What’s wrong?
Why can’t I hear him?
Where is his birth song?
Is he breathing?
Why can’t he breathe?!

The longest seconds of my life
Were as I waited for you to breathe
Begging God to blow His breath
Upon your need

Then up you were held
In the spotlight of glory!
Covered in our flesh
You shouted your victory cry
Declaring your arrival
Upon this land
And I responded with my own
As I laid amazed by you and already your biggest fan
My trophy, my prize
My son
My sunrise

The first time you heard that word
We all know the one
The one whispered under the breath, so it’s almost unheard
By an adversary
Lacking the same melanin as you
It broke my heart
That a stranger was so certain he knew you
Well enough to speak such hate
That he could arouse your rage
But you didn’t take his bait
Instead, you shined on your stage

Knowing that a part of your innocence died that day
And that it was the first of many times you would hear that word
My heart gave way
As I cried and tried to breathe through the anger and the hurt
Flung at you as a way to distract from one’s own ignorance and deficiencies
I was proud of how you held your head up
My hurting heart swelled as I watched you smile and school him with efficiency
I thanked God for giving you grace in abundance
And a heart of forgiveness

Today I listened to him cry
My soul heard him scream that he can’t breathe
I watched that baby boy die
Lying in a street
Knee gripped, Teeth gritted
Huff and puff
Push! Push! Push!
No relief, No release
No remorse, No recourse
Instead of glory
Only horror
Instead of cheer
Bone-chilling fear

I saw a boy rejected by his brother
I heard a boy cry out for his mother
Subjected to hatred without measure
Rejected with pleasure
As he begged for life
As he begged for breath
His heart wrenching cry
Was only met with death

That boy from the court that flung that nasty word
Now sat as a hunter
Towering over his kill in the herd
He perched over his trophy
Raising his head as if he was feeling almost holy
The pleas of those around him
Falling on deaf ears
As he enjoyed his moment
Regardless of their tears

I looked into your eyes
And I read the despair
As you uncovered the lies
That innocence tells you about life being fair
I saw the terror
And the reflection of rage
And I knew this moment was beyond repair
And you had finally come of the age
To be aware
To beware
For those who are here for your protection
Are not always full of affection
For those who look like you
And who look like your fathers
It is truly a case of it’s not you…
But do the words matter enough to even bother?

I saw betrayal
I saw a hunger for justice
I saw a need for faithful
Friends and loved ones
As suspicion is on the rise
And ugly words are typed
Without regard for innocent eyes
And everyone only sees black and white
And forget those beautiful babies
Who are trying to find their place in this world
And in this life
Where they just want to be loved
And they just want to know they will be allowed
To live…
To survive…
To breathe…

After you died in the street
I watched my son walk down another one
He cried your name
He DECLARED your name to the heavens
And to every one of the powers that be
He demanded justice
Where you can’t breathe
He vowed to breathe every breath in remembrance of your last ones
Of your lost ones
All the breathes that should have been
We will breathe them for you
We will breathe them in
With your name never far away
I will breathe for you
As you became my son that day

Every mother of a black man
Heard your cry for your mama on this side
As I know she prepared to receive you
In the spotlight of glory
Lifted high and no longer covered by flesh
Instead in the brilliant light
And robes of righteousness
This mother will never forget that cry
It is as much a part of me as that first cry
After I asked repeatedly,
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Written on June 25, 2020

Submitted by Hisbeloved5810 on June 22, 2021

Modified on March 05, 2023

4:20 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme abxC dexABC fxABga hhijA a A k x a lmlxE neja aGhopaxqrsr asagkakatat aauavxgdw oeaaaBCxxgixx iiiinjoj aiaggmxax ryryitytyysskxki pwpzraravanaaffe asxzgwezz1 k1 uka qAkghawoOge
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,354
Words 868
Stanzas 21
Stanza Lengths 4, 6, 6, 5, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 5, 4, 11, 11, 9, 13, 8, 9, 16, 16, 15, 11

Desaray Shores

Author of Letters to My Lover: Journal of an Adulterous Woman. more…

All Desaray Shores poems | Desaray Shores Books

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