When I say two seconds, I don’t mean the time
it took him to die. I mean the lapse between
the instant the cruiser braked to a halt
on the grass, between that moment
and the one in which the officer fired his weapon.
The two seconds taken to assess the situation.
I believe it is part of the work
of poetry to try on at least
the moment and skin of another,
for this hour I respectfully decline.
I refuse it. May that officer
be visited every night of his life
by an enormity collapsing in front of him
into an incomprehensible bloom,
and the voice that howls out of it.
If this is no poem then…
But that voice—erased boy,
beloved of time, who did nothing
to no one and became
nothing because of it—I know that voice
is one of the things we call poetry.
It isn’t to his killer he’s speaking.
— from In Two Seconds by Mark Doty
Mom says you made being black beautiful again
but that was before someone killed Trayvon.
After that came a sadness so big it made everyone
look the same. It was a long time before we could
go outside again. Mr. President, it took one whole day
for me to die and even though I'm twelve and not afraid of the dark
I didn't know there could be so much of it
or so many other boys here.
— from Testimony for Tamir Rice, 2002-2014 by Hafizah Geter