June 2020. Richmond, Virginia.

My friend studies graffiti

From Roman ruins

I once heard her speak on the things

We learn from words arrested by time

When ash rained down and paused life

Before it could be curated into

Narrative sanitized to serve power

And I look at the statue

In the center of the road

That runs directly into my house

And I wonder what historians

Would make of it

Were we to be unearthed after burial

By a rain of sudden ash today

What would they say

Of the exaltation of wars lost

The cries of pain

And liberation

Coexisting on that marble

What will history say

Of the part I played

When it came in teargas plumes

Up the road to my door

Did I answer, or peer between the blinds

Afraid. Till time moved on

As if walls will save us

When they dissect the remains of this moment

Hold this crossroads where

History meets the urgency

Of tonight and live-streamed sudden storms

How will they interpret this story

Urgent scribblings of righteous anger

Expletives and prayers

People denied a voice

Too long, too late

Till at last

Fire falls