When Daniel Harris stepped out of his car
the policeman was waiting. Gun raised.
I use the past tense though this is irrelevant
in Daniel's language, which is sign.
Sign has no future or past; it is a present language.
You are never more present than when a gun
is pointed at you. What language says this
if not sign? But the police officer saw hands
waving in the air, fired and Daniel dropped
his hands, his chest bleeding out onto concrete
metres from his home. I am in Breukelen Coffee House
in New York, reading this news on my phone,
when a black policewoman walks in, two guns
on her hips, my friend next to me reading
the comments section: Black Lives Matter.
Now what could we sign or say out loud
when the last word I learned in ASL was alive?
Alive — both thumbs pointing at your lower abdominal,
index fingers pointing up like two guns in the sky.
Raymond Antrobus, “Two Guns in the Sky for Daniel Harris” from The Perseverance. Copyright © 2018 by Raymond Antrobus. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Source: The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins, 2018)