The day he was shot, I heard his stomach crawl.
I wondered if his last words to me were true:
“Woman, cut your voice the wrong way and I will swallow you.”
The day he was shot, forty-seven miles separated his grip from my walls,
from night after stolen night, when he shared his body with me
instead of his wife. He loved the fool in me,
loved telling me my surrender gave him the power
to lead every march, bellow every speech,
to beseech the Lord's will to hold every bullet at bay.
He told me it was holy to be the other woman,
to be his favorite of all the Other Women.
He told me the Lord gave me too much power,
and I believed him, the night he begged me not to run home,
hanging his head out of the open window. He asked,
“is leaving me tonight worth the movement? Will you dare what
the Lord allows no gunman to do?” He knew.
My people needed my silence,
needed my body to willingly bend before the mountaintop.
The moment I heard him die, I was home, slicing bread.
His gasp hurtled out of me, and the blade opened my finger
where he once said a ring could be. That night, I listened to the riots,
thanking the Lord that at last my secrets
could surround me. Every building burnt, every chomping dog,
every stroke and kiss from my overburdened, weakened man.
And the silence after...all of it was mine.
For the love of my people,
it was always mine.
may his wife forgive me.
I never asked to be holy.