In numerous interviews, Karen Sharpe, the mother of North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, has revealed that she refuses to watch the video of her son killing Walter Scott on April 4, 2015.
This poem is addressed to her.
She won’t watch the video
There is gunpowder on her right cheek; it is where
He kisses her, “Mom,” he says, “you are loved like forever and ever and always”
Always is closer for some people than others.
But he was such a good boy.
A good boy.
And she will not watch the video.
She refuses to bear witness to the crumble of a man
And the laughter of her son, she cannot
Bring herself to click the link
And she changes the channel
And she folds her
Covered in chalk outline residue and
This is what it means to grieve while White.
It is denial and dishonor kissing one another in secrecy
First comes the badge
Then comes the weapon
Then comes the White mother who cannot imagine how this happened
Wash off the sins
Who cannot forgive
Themselves for forgiving their sons
But what is to be forgiven but a lie of a sin;
How old was he when you taught him to walk?
At what age did he learn to run, when he ran, did you chase after him or look
Were his cheeks always red?
Did he always laugh when he caught up to you—if you played cops and robbers
Was he always the cop
And if he was the robber
Did he hang his head low like shame like
“get back here!” like
Did you know he would be criminal?
When you sung to him songs as sweet as the North Carolina air
Did you know he would be trigger happy one day?
Oh mother of mine, you are
No mother of mine but you are
Mother of man
And this is your burden always for the taking.
For the taking, don’t they?
You will not watch the video
But rest assured it is no better than the film on replay in that 1950s cinema of your skull
Yes, it is worst, much worse,
There is blood
In this cinema, on this film, on this body, on his hands
There is blood
Like clock in and
You will tell yourself
“He is a good boy.”
Until you believe it, again.
And when they tell you he is a bad man
You best believe them.
Know your blood now
Than you do
Know that backlight of a brain
What you are looking for
Will tell you that
These things never make any
And you best believe them.