New Haven, CT—Three days after Christmas the Elm City had its 20th homicide: Javier Martinez

by Joan Malerba Foran, Common Ground English Teacher

She stands at the lectern a long
while before lifting her face:
“Forgive me,” she says. “I don’t know
how to mourn.” She hugs her own
thin waist while we sit stiffly on
the cracked plastic chairs of high school.

Classmate, student, friend,
Javier was murdered on a midnight
sidewalk, wrapped in a bitter
winter wind, shot for his new shoes.
Alive 18 years and dead
less than a week, we take turns

making memories of Javii:
his giant headphones and fresh foams,
his favorite cookie, a childhood
lisp, how he stalked friends
for snacks, ate melted chocolate
with a spoon in each hand
and always the gentle always
the kind always the bright smile.

“I’ve never lost anyone like this,”
she says, “so please forgive me.”
She is a mere 17-years-old and
at 60 I know most of the many
ways to mourn; still, she need not
ask for our forgiveness because
it isn’t just her—none of us has
ever lost anyone like Javii.


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