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MERCY by Nadine Marshall

Sunday’s mourning.

Papier Mache church walls. My father

appears playing the weary organ in my grandparents’ home.

His melodious hands across the keys, face of crumbling rose petals beckoning the spirit.

A cacophony of chords and my mother kneels before a wooden altar. A candle flickers

against the stained glass. Dust gathers inside her praying palms. Knees of ash, blank eyes.

An unfamiliar hymn on her lips, she hums.

A thousand orchids blanket the floor.

If God is here, all seeing all knowing, then God weeps in the manner of a whisper.

Worship ensure the children stay mute.

My mother rises an unnamed woman,

laughs at all the breaking things inside.

Cries for what remains intact. And all

in all. She begs on behalf my father’s soul.

God, have mercy on his soul.


NADINE MARSHALL l is a queer black poet from Detroit, MI and has appeared at TED x U of M, The Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam in Columbus, OH, and The National Poetry Slam Competition in Oakland, CA. They co-founded FRUIT, an independent, community-led reading and dialogue series for and by marginalized voices. Nadine holds an MSW and currently works as the Content Coordinator for the Allied Media Conference which is hosted every year in Detroit.


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