Last summer, a young boy in Milwaukee was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was running up the stairs of his grandmother’s house to say goodbye before he went fishing with his dad. He died on his grandma’s stairs.
This fact hit me hard. Reading about the shooting in the paper made me sick. All the little boys I’ve known in my life – my sons, my grandsons – could have been this little boy. So when it was announced that there would be a prayer march in the neighborhood where the boy was killed, I deeply needed to go.
I wrote about the experience in this piece called The Prayer March. The version published here by the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review is the umpteenth revision. Never have I worked and reworked a piece like this one.
That it was absolutely true was essential. And, here, it was very difficult – separating out what I saw and what I believed to be true, what I felt and what existed in the real world, everything bound in the gauze of race and age, gender and history.
Once it was published, I worried that I’d gotten it wrong. But I didn’t. This is what I saw and felt that day last summer, walking in a prayer march mourning the loss of a young beautiful boy. It still pains me to think of him. Reading my essay again, I am back there standing in the street in a crowd of people, each of us with a broken heart.