On September 4, 2008, in San Francisco, Matthew Avery Solomon, 23, my step-son, was dropped mid-smile (for he was with two friends) to the sidewalk by a bullet to the back of his head–some kind of neighborhood retaliatory act, or so I’ve heard, for some perceived or actual slight or injury or maybe even another death. I don’t know.
I do know in the agony that followed the homicide inspector’s call–I can’t recall her name, now–I struggled to understand the heart and mind of that masked young man and his companion who pulled the trigger that took away a son, a father, a friend, a co-worker–a poet, a promise. I could only come up with a heart and mind that was, and I imagine is still, without hope.
I shared with Matt a love of language. We each, in our own way, used language to tell our stories and connect with others. Here is where I am today:
I hear the voice of fear
and I am afraid.
I hear the voice of hope
and I have hope.
I hear the silence of the voiceless,
and I weep—
for I know that silence
is shattered time and again,
time and again by the sound of shots—
and my child, our child,
lies dead on the street,
my street, our street
and I weep, I weep
for that loss
Yet, I live. I breathe and I speak
and though I weep
and though I am afraid
and lie awake in the dark of night,
I must not be silent.
My voice, quavering
as it sometimes may be,
must speak the certainty I know,
must be a voice for the voiceless,
must be a voice of hope.
This I believe.
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