Except the Names
It’s a dangerous thing, cannibalizing another’s life for one’s own purposes.
It’s done all the time.
I hold the sign naming the dead black man as protest, in protest.
Yet I am enthused, energized, and (must I say this?) enjoying myself.
Something isn’t in sync.
And then, looking around at the other signs, the other names
I imagine being in a huge space with no one but myself.
And I, in this space I’ve created in my head, read the names aloud.
I begin with the name from my own sign and I say the five syllables, slowly,
and the weight of the name which names the person no longer here (sixteen shots) presses down upon me.
I read another’s name, from another sign, and her face
like a bell being rung or a sunset, sudden and breath-taking,
adds weight to my suddenly fettered self.
And in this echoing space, this place inside my head, I hear the sound of many names being read aloud, in unison, a psalm of lament.
And the slippery nature of my own purposes
surrenders itself to the downward current of the names’ own meanings.
I cannot speak, struck dumb by grief, I enter into the presence of God
with only the names to speak.
Only the names, and the grieving, and even the grief is not mine but borrowed from those whose names are all that remains of them.
I wait for the hot coal from an angel to be pressed against my lips
so that oracles of God will flow from me to heal, to help.
But the angel does not come.
My witness therefore is in silence.
Except for the names.
– Jon Trott / June 14 2020