POETRY: The streets are crying.

by Cecilia Erin Walsh 

daily burials without memorial. selective testing. 
arrogance and stupidity passing for leadership.
seclusion. isolation. hunger. masks on every face. 
furtive movements across the city. essential travel only. 
certain scarcity. overcrowded hospitals. 
layoffs. domestic violence and suicide rise. 
mental health crisis phone lines ring incessantly. 

gardens where lawns used to be. parks closed, untended.

boarded up businesses. record unemployment. 
cars lined up for miles in hopes of food bank services. 
schools closed. children hankering for friends. no hand shakes. 
no hugs. take-out only. no spring festivals. no street fairs. 

And in the midst of the pandemic, another murder. 
This disease looms large and vivid. Yet another
murder of an unarmed Black man. Yet another murder 
of a person of color by a White cop. Yet another
murder to add to a list impossibly long. Murder
intended. Death intended. Annihilation intended. Another
and then another and another and countless many murders.

“Mama! Mama! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t — ”
George Floyd’s cry is the clapper in a massive bell, 
a bell begging for life, for freedom, for justice, for just and human respect; 
the clapper heaved again and again against the thick brass
of the bell; the cry reverberating from lungs begging for air, 
echoing from the asphalt where another Black man dies 
under the knee of another White man in a dark uniform.
“I can’t breathe!” The cry, the last words exhaled 
from the lungs of the dead Black man rise up from the street;
the cry is heard and absorbed and exhaled by each observer,
passed from one human to another in the gathered crowd, 
up, through and from the people, up and out and out, 
picked up and carried on the wind, and spread like a virus. 

The cry is an echo of another time, another murder
and another and another. The cry moves up from the street,
grows long and loud and louder, spreads across the city
through the state, across the country, the oceans, the continents,
and as it moves, accelerates, intensifies, it climbs,
climbs high and higher into the atmosphere, and spreads there
until it circles the entire globe, circles all of the earth, 
all of humanity where it gathers up the past and turns to face the future.
“Enough is enough!” This cry is not new. This is not the first Enough. 
Enough has been cried out before. Enough is a pre-existing condition revealed
again. Enough has been too much for too long. 
Enough is centuries old. Enough is history itself.

Enough was the African slave trade as industry.
Enough is inherited, lingering deep-scarring trauma.
Enough was the popularity of the fake science of eugenics.
Enough is inherited, lingering myths of insufficiency.
Enough was the Jim Crow South. 
Enough is the new Jim Crow.
Enough was voter suppression. 
Enough is voter suppression.
Enough was the Tuskegee Experiment.
Enough is inherited, lingering myth of less than human. 
Enough was the stolen cells of Henrietta Lacks.
Enough is the extreme inequalities in access to health care.
Enough was cross burnings and public lynchings.
Enough is a noose hung by White students from a school yard tree.
Enough was segregated schools.
Enough is gentrification.
Enough was redlining.
Enough is gerrymandering. 
Enough was the war on drugs.
Enough is the school to prison pathway starting in kindergarten.
Enough was Emmett Till, Malcolm X., Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Enough is Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Charleena Lyles, and not 
Enough room on this page for all the names.
Enough has happened again and again and again. 
Enough has been placated, choked off, co-opted, and compromised.

Will this be the last 
“Enough is enough!” 
The cry must be contagious and sustained, 
Must ring through, must be 
the air we breathe:
“Enough is enough!”

June, 2020

Cecilia Erin Walsh has been a resident of Rainier Valley for almost 30 years. Her writing spans several, closeted decades. At retirement, after over 40 years of service in Early Childhood Development and Social Work, she exited the closet, hoping that her writing might also serve others. Service, writing, and travel have been passions since early in her life, always in pursuit of shared, human experience.

Featured image sourced from Wikimedia Commons.