Grinding Down To Prayer

Michael Kleber-Diggs

for George Floyd

I woke to the news you were dead.
The what arrived before daylight;

the how was agony unfolding as I
dreaded my way to dusk. Unfolding

against my want not to know
(but I already knew, have known

since I could know): officers, arrest,
Black, man, twenty, video, knee,

sir, back, dollar, 8:, counterfeit,
hands, sorry, 46, mama, please,

breathe, please! Were you tired
George? I feel tired sometimes.

America on my neck—my
lungs compressed so much

they can’t expand/contract—
take in/send out—oxygen/words.

My dentist says I grind my teeth.
My molars are wearing smooth.

The next night, I jolted awake
to find my fists clenched tight

(some fight), my heart pounding fast,
my mouth hanging open, slack,

not tight that time, just me
on my own gasping for air

6 times a minute—a raspy sound.
The world was darkness; my room was

darkness. I lay in a state of
in between and thought of you

but also God. I wanted the sun
but did not ask. I hoped instead

for a quiet dawn and peace for us,
real peace for us. I hoped so hard

it almost made a prayer

Last updated August 11, 2022