Custody

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2016

“…A wood pewee’s melancholy call.” ~ D. Bonta

Chopping cilantro and flat leaf parsley
on a bamboo board at the sink, mincing

garlic and onions. Late mellowing light,
the air bordering on cool and tinged

bitter-green with the smell of growing
amargoso in the yard. I can keep

the kitchen door open because the side gate
is locked, and the week-long siege at the street

corner is over. We did not know the man
they say trespassed, early Monday morning,

into someone’s yard with a firearm;
did not know what altercation if any

led to someone calling the police. So he ran
and barricaded himself in his own house. They came

in force, then; stood on the street with rifles drawn,
sealed off one end and the block below. Those of us

who could still come and go out the other end
brought back reports every day, over four

days: how many squad cars, where the waiting
ambulance was parked, the bomb unit; who saw

the robot deployed with a phone, the negotiators,
the tv crew. We did not witness how, before dawn

yesterday, finally they took him into custody
from the Latin custodia, meaning guardianship,

keeping, care— Now this man who neighbors say
used to pelt their doors with donuts, or attach

stuffed animals on leashes for walks,
is in a hospital or facility. Is it wrong

to wonder if it lasted as long as it did
instead of arriving at swifter resolution—

doors broken in; tasers, clubs; bullets sprayed
into his body— because of the color of his skin?

Or can it be possible to believe that finally
something of change might be moving slowly

through the dismal atmosphere, tempering
and holding in check, allowing the thought

to stay the trigger, the heart to register
its trembling before letting the weapon fly?

In summer, because dark descends more slowly,
it’s hard to scan the sky for the hunter

and his belt studded with the three telltale
bright stars; harder too to remember how

once he boasted he would hunt down and kill
all of earth’s wild animals to make it safe…

But there he is, adrift in the inky darkness,
club and shield eternally raised, his own K-9 units

at his heels; and here we are, still trying to sort
villain from victim, wound from welcome opening.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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