Reasonable Doubt

After the acquittal of the police shooting of Philando Castile

The problem is, lately, I am the elliptical
 			                 leaves of a birch—not even the whole organism, just 
              the top swaying above a clock tower. The sky 
has some clouds. The sky has some clouds—
                                                                      a statement so vague no one

could convict it. Another trial ending in wind. Another trial
              in which the jurors couldn’t be certain,
though they saw what we all saw—
                                                                his death, live-streamed,
a four-year-old witness
			   in the backseat. It’s spring. The problem is, lately,

I’ve been rootless. 
                                                    Silence rolls around 
			   inside me, a smooth stone 
                                                    on my tongue. Something

is gnawing away the particulars of things, licking the world
	   clean of color—
			                even that birch, the hard grooves
of its skin swirling around odd notches, growing
	   until it reached beyond 
			   the clock tower, meant as a symbol 
                                          of order, how humans divide their time— 

Never mind.  
			 Talking these days is like sifting 
                                                                                  through a pile of mulch.  

I remember talking before—how I strove
	   for greenness, precision, a certain
                                          grace in form, but who 

	   was I speaking to, 
                                                    what was I saying?

Something about time. A tower. 
                                                            A tree with a murder 
                         of crows in its branches. A mistrial 

                                          of clouds. An acquittal 
                                                    of nonsense. A jury 

with splinters in its teeth. 

Danielle Cadena Deulen is an assistant professor for the graduate creative writing program at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and hosts Lit from the Basement a literary podcast and radio show (at KMUZ 100.7 FM). She is the author of a memoir, The Riots; two poetry collections, Our Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond Us and Lovely Asunder; and a poetry chapbook, American Libretto.