Requiem for Michelle Silvertino

Requiem for Michelle Silvertino

Michelle, I never met you.
But your story pierced my soul.
It should pierce our souls as a
nation. For it is a story of so
many of our poor.
We romanticize, even make
the likes of you the cynosure
of attention
when it is time for
election
but largely forget you
the rest of the time
including in our most civilized
conversation.

 

Even the media took notice
of you only after you died.
They said
you were a maid
as if it explained
why you could only afford
to sleep on a footbridge
while you waited for
a bus ride home
to your province.
Alas, the ride never
came.
Instead the Grim Reaper
set in.

 

Cops first tried to help you
but got scared.
You allegedly had Covid-19 symptoms:
high fever, coughing.
They said you said you were fine.
But were you not forced to hide the truth?
That you didn’t want to be pitied.
Or be traumatized by other peoples’
fears, cruel insensitivity
and inhumanity…

 

In the end, like other victims
of this pandemic,
you died alone,
bereft of your loved ones’ embrace
and your people’s compassion.

 

Forgive us, Michelle.
Forgive us for failing to see in you
a sister, a friend, a neighbor.
Forgive us for not being who we
say we are to you and to so many others.
Now that your passing has fueled
a long-simmering blame-game,
help us pray that we honor you
with a coming-to-our-senses national
healing.

 

Let our prayers be joined by yours
because perhaps we need your
prayers more than you need ours.
Of this I am sure: The Heavenly One
has welcomed you into his home.
You joined him in his Passion;
You now share in his Exaltation!
We pray that you rest in his peace and joy,
trusting that somewhere in the green
meadows of heaven your forgiveness
merits your remembering to pray for us.

For even now we keep on forgetting:

OUR OWN POOR PEOPLE’S LIVES MATTER!