By Number

A Black woman died today.

The keepers of score say
Black women now leave
the planet at the
rate of one every 4.8 hours,
and there is one Black man
somewhere who will tell
multiple Black women
that we need to choose better.

Be softer.
Be more thankful you.
Less loud.
More quiet.
And do the thing
by which Black women
do best which is
handle life—
Even as it is thrown at them,
tossed at them,
or hit directly in their faces.

To be protector
of their predators
to be silent when
they should scream
and should lay down
and be taken because
that’s what we are
supposed to do.

To not bloom, but never plant.
Never ask but never fail to offer
but always be ready
to give over the any and everything—including body and mind.

And yet every 4.8 hours.
snatched.
Missing.
Found.

Mysteriously recovered
from ditches and streams
ravines, and washed up
on beaches
we are found… and yet unmissed.

We are missing, but never lost.
grieved, and yet never glorified
and yet we are told that our deaths
are lies and our lives misrepresented, unreported and should go with the territory of being
both woman and Black
because what did she really do to make him do her like that?

and yet…a Black woman died today.

-JBHarris, October 2022