Bulletproof Castles

By STEVEN T. MOORE

for George Floyd 

I’m reading a children’s book 
about knights and castles to Mrs. Walker’s class,
their tiny faces beaming as I read each page.
But this morning, I’m only watching 
the black boys and black girls 
because of last night’s news:
another unarmed black person dead. 

I turn the page, see the black boy in blue.
He will be delayed during 3:30 pickup today because his father’s body was 
unable to withstand the pressure of cops bearing down on his head. 

I turn the page, see the black girl in yellow 
with crumbs of homemade biscuits 
jailed inside her braided hair will miss her grandmother’s breakfasts
that kind old woman who lived in Florida for years 
gunned down on 7th and Hickory Street,
an accidental shooting they say. 
The dishes from breakfast are still resting in the sink.

I turn the page, see the fidgety black boy wearing red,
his mother who works at Walmart down the street 
will be dead tonight from walking out her backdoor. 
Heard a commotion while ironing clothes,
no idea about the 911 call.
They sprayed her down with bullets along with her daisies 
blooming by the windowsill.
Mistake they said. The iron is still on in the kitchen. 

I finish the book, 
praying that bullets and blood 
will not change the color of their sun and clouds 
drawn hours ago and now tucked away inside backpacks 
purchased last week during the back-to-school sale.

I leave the room, wishing for blue knights
to carry these black boys and black girls home,
lock them behind doors,
tuck them safely behind bulletproof castles. 

Dr. Steven T. Moore

Dr. Steven T. Moore is a professor in the Department of Language and Literature and director of the McNair Scholars Program at Abilene Christian University

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