Elijah McClain liked to play his violin for kittens
at the animal shelter in Aurora, Colorado.
Meaning, he was the type of person who,
when he met a defenseless life,
tried to give it some beauty or kindness.
Meaning, he was definitely not the same type of person
as those he met while walking home from the store
one August night, harming or bothering no one.
Not the type of person who would choke a gentle,
thin young man, while two others helped,
or would continue to do so after he told them
he could not breathe, and after he told them
they were beautiful, and after he told them
he was so sorry, but what they were doing
really hurt. I know very little about Elijah.
I certainly don’t want to speak for him.
But a few months ago I found a dog
abandoned at a gas station. She had no front teeth.
She was gently approaching people with a slow,
submissive wag of her tail. She had no collar,
no chip, no one responded to the photo I posted
on Facebook. And I didn’t know Elijah McClain
but based on this small thing I do know,
I think he would have played the violin for her, too.
Craig Finlay is a poet and librarian currently living in rural Oklahoma. His poems have appeared or will be appearing in numerous publications, most recently, The Ilanot Review, Little Patuxent Review, Levee Magazine, and After Happy Hour Review. His debut collection, The Very Small Mammoths of Wrangel Island, is forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press.