for Patricia Jabbeh Wesley



Walking the dogs in Children’s Memorial Park, Peruvian mesquites

drape generous lacey shade where we stroll over

the crisp carpet of dead leaves. At the base of an elder,

a pool of sap thick as copal and wide as my torso, bark

stained black along the trail of tears

from the wound where an arborist has cut

off a large limb. Who knows how long

this tree has cried her timeless grief?

I spread my hand where the emptiness begins

across my chest for the 20-year-old son

shot and killed “by mistake” while talking

on the phone to his mom. My Liberian friend

calls crying she’s scared when her son

drives or walks the streets after dark. Together

we cry and cry until her heart song rises

to the canopy of these magnificent mesquite trees

park staff trim, trees that lose limb after limb

for our thoughtless walking path past

the Children’s Memorial Wall

written with the names of thousands of lost sons

and daughters, some taken by disease, others drowned, killed

in car accidents, at home or by police, by guns or fists, all

dead too soon, names etched into granite

polished deaf as burnished steel.