In his holy name they huddled before his church door for Jesus saves Jesus saves but not the eight, sucking stone with a bullet in their heads their soft heads. It was cold on the steps, late at night where they slept and they slept wrapped in dreams until waking warm in blood warm with blood from the flesh of their friends now never to wake not to wake. For crimes as thief or whore the little children were culled they were culled and the golden streets that glisten under Christ Redeemer Our Redeemer were cleansed of their stains for the carnival must go on must go on.
The Candelária massacre was a mass killing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 1993. During the night, eight homeless people, including six minors, were killed by a group of men beside the Candelária Church. Several of the men were members of the police and were tried for the killings, but only two were convicted. —Wikipedia
This Saturday of shining grass yawning cat shimmers about my hair as I weigh down the paper with coffee and a frown. A ball of brown-beaned warmth at the cusp of my neck is my sigh my breath, a sieve to filter melancholy. Black ink presses into elbows, thoughts. Words, capitalised, or ugly bold splutter of young men with flags and flame who stare into foreign lens hear only explosions breathe only dust. I deny the world its news and flip to the lifestyle section; new restaurants, ways to dress and think yet my pulse still hums along that headline shot of crumpled bodies in logo T-shirts loose-limbed as contortionists surrounded by rubble. There’s a tree in the photo gangly as a teenager in the middle of the street. It’s survived the explosion with a rooted grim resistance that the dead boys thought was theirs. Now, a plum-bottomed ant scuttles up the wooden table leg and flickers on the paper’s edge. I blow it off, not bothering to watch it fall as I shake the pages clean and return to my shining grass-scented Saturday.
His head rests on my shoulder now. As a child he’d nestle there. When shadows grew, my boy tired from loves and labours of the day would rest as I stroked his hair. We’d walk along the riverbank gathering the rushes where in the still, waiting dusk poppies blazed, and the chill of changing seasons made me shiver as I pictured forming years. His head rests on my shoulder cold-cheeked and grey. At the close of this long dark day he lies bloodless, wasted in my arms as I stroke his matted hair. Stretched on groaning timber his arms spanned a world of love and fear. Forgotten hero to the riot of soul-scared people at his feet. My son. God’s Son.
Kate Maxwell is a Sydney-based teacher. She has been published and awarded in Australian and International literary magazines such as The Blue Nib, The Chopping Blog, Hecate, Linq, Verandah, Social Alternatives and Swyntax. Writing has always been her therapeutic and creative outlet. Kate’s interests include film, wine and sleeping.
©2020 Kate Maxwell
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