Rumors

written by Holly Day

My friend’s daughter told him that she’s afraid he’s going to get shot
because he’s black, and she just heard about another black man getting shot on TV
hey’re talking about it at school, and she’s worried about losing him.

He says this to me so casually, as though it’s a perfectly ordinary thing for a little girl
to think she might lose her father to a bullet, but I can tell it’s because
he’s practiced this speech to himself so many times already that he barely knows
he’s saying it, these are just lines now. I tell him
how sad I think that is, but even that seems inadequate.

If I had time to practice my own reactions back to him
at home, in a mirror, over and over again until my side of the conversation also seems
completely natural and casual, perhaps
I could find some way to convey  my sadness and horror
without feeling a knot of vomit inside me,
without spending the next few days wondering
what sort of assurances I should offer him, should I talk to his daughter
what my place is here.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and The Tampa Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), while her newest nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies and Tattoo FAQ.

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