By Fraser Sutherland
The camera shows us a procession to the grave,
the mourners in their casual clothes, feet
in a woven shuffle, mouths in complex song,
shouldered coffin swaying. But more's going on.
The slain young man was a leader among
his friends and followers, a man
who rightly or wrongly is blamed for the killing,
a boy really, is here without protection.
And the friends, they're all so handsome, so young,
follow the boy back to his home, his shelter.
He goes inside and the rest of them, their voices a storm,
surround it and one of them has a stick and with
a long sweep, careless, controlled, takes out the window,
the glass falls like rain, you can see the tinkle.
Then, suddenly, he's outside and the rest of them, men or boys,
surround him, and the pokes, the shoves, the cuffs
seem almost playful, his face almost but not quite terrified,
but then the camera picks up in someone's hand
a knife and the others join, closing in.
It is too much like poultry pecking one of their number,
too much to bear, this "act of revenge,"
too much for the boys to bear away from here
on their thin shoulders like a coffin.
The camera lingers a moment
on a freeze-frame of the crumpled boy.
The reporter says if he and the cameraman intervened
it would have been death. But it was death already,
it was death and we did not know it until it came.