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Waiting for the shots to stop

September 6, 2009

by Ebony Colbert-Sparks

Ebony's three little Sparks
Ebony's three little Sparks
I am the best at basketball,

I can jump high, I can shoot and I can run,

I am fast, I am smart, I can do anything

My mommy told me so.

I shoot the ball and it goes swoosh …

And then I hear, “Pop, pop, pop,” tires screeching,

Fast running steps, yelling, coming closer

“RUN! GET INSIDE!”

I wonder where the ball is and I look around …

I try to pick it up but they told us all to go …

The teachers and the construction workers building habitats for humanity for poor people like us to live in to feel safe,

But we are not safe, we are stuck,

The police come running, telling us to get down,

to go, to hide, the police, guns drawn, chasing them boys with hoodies on.

Boys that look like my big brother,

Boys who shot other boys,

Boys who look just like my big brother

They yell at us to go…to run…to hide

But I stand still, watching, and I can’t move

My feet are glued to that uneven yard,

My eyes are glued to those boys and those police

And glued to those guns that made noises that make us jump out of our skin every time

Noises we heard before we saw them coming …

I am stuck … and I am scared …

But I cannot move … and I cannot cry!

But then, God kicks in, he grabs my feet and pulls them loose

God says, “Move, baby, run, go hide”

And I do. I run like I am in a relay race, like I see an ice cream truck,

like I am trying to catch hold of that 44 bus for my mama and my brothers,

I run into the auditorium, trying to catch my breath and I almost can’t

Then in come my friends. I have known some since before my second birthday

But today, right now, all their faces are sad to me,

Eyes big, mouths open, breathing hard, trying to catch their breath,

They run in too, behind me, around me, and then Mr. Brown, and Mr. Leo,

They carry some kids whose feet were glued like mine,

They huddle us in the middle of the auditorium and we wait

Wait for the noise to stop, away from the windows,

Doors locked. Again! Again those shouts and those boys and those guns ruin my day,

I worry about my brothers and I look around at my teachers, whose faces are sad too …

I am sad, but I will not cry, I just sit, Indian style, head down covered by my little hands and I wait

And wait. Again. And then they say, “Okay, you guys, everything is okay.”

But it is not.

San Francisco writer and former Bay View managing editor Ebony Colbert-Sparks can be reached at EColbert@cve.org. She invites other concerned parents to contact her.

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