The Tree Dividing Us
When I picture in my mind
the shooting of Walter Scott,
it’s a still image: Scott on the left
looking like a batter having just hit
and leaning in to dash to first,
Slager on the right, feet anchored,
gun leveled at Scott’s back,
and between them a tree trunk,
rising thick, dark, dividing them,
leaves and bark framing both figures,
containing them in the comforting ruin
of assigned roles, roles from before
either were born, like the tree.
The tree’s leaves hang over both men
like a script giving direction and dialogue:
Scott runs, Slager shoots, Scott falls,
all unfolds under the tree,
in the photo. But the photo is small
and can’t contain the whole tree canopy,
which is immense and extends beyond
the photo, out over every American.
Read more of Michael T. Young’s poetry.
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