a poem for Philando Castile.
There is no consolation
when a light goes out like this:
a thirty-two year old black man dead
because he “looked like a suspect”
while driving with his family
after haircuts and grocery shopping
ten days before his birthday.
There is no comfort
for the four year old who witnessed his execution
from her backseat car seat viewpoint
and then told her crying mother,
“It’s okay Mommy, I’m right here with you.”
There are no words
for forty-nine traffic stops in thirteen years,
for five bullets and no first aid,
for hundreds of others like him.
There is no consolation for any of this,
but if there were, it might be the dozens of children
at the J. J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul–
where he worked as a cafeteria supervisor
and was known as Mr. Phil–
who loved him.
And it could also be their parents
who took to the internet to praise him,
their gentle “Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks.”
So much more than a suspect
or another dead thug.
And the fact is
those young people will carry a bit of him
everywhere they go for their rest of their lives,
his memory hitching a ride through time without him
that hurtles on through space for light years
even after the star is extinguished,
hauling thousands of wishes across the night sky,
allowing us to hope.
By Melanie Corning
Melanie Corning is a writer and teacher in Boston. She recently finished her MA in English at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School, where she learned to love both poetry and mountains. Her work has appeared in the Bread Loaf Journal and in a Google Drive folder called “drafts.”