A leather boot print on brown necks often goes unnoticed for several minutes: One Minute—Please I can’t breathe like the stench from a slave ship except outside. Three minutes—I can’t breathe, officer. Because maybe calling out respectfully will make him hear your humanity. Five minutes—Mama, Mama Because only your mother can save you. Seven minutes—silence Because you are unconscious, dying; your mother is walking towards you. Her muddy feet spoke to the river she crossed like the sea your ancestors crossed near Egypt or from Arkansas. Dogs’ breath panting. Distant fire burning. The echoes of lynching in a megaphone. Bodies charred for photos and mementos before families claim them, bones unfleshed, dust forming in the ashes. Like Adam you return. Your ETA: 8:46 minutes later.
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