My Mother Gave Me a Coin Jesus and I Am Still Alive

Thrift store or Walmart coin. The Last

Supper on one side, Jesus on the other.

My mother offers her daughters

matching pairs, tells us to keep it always,


He’ll protect you, and pockets one God

coin for herself. This is her way to feel

closer to us, as if the coin could thread

miles, a cup and string


she throws her love through.

I keep mine in my driver’s door,

upholding my promise

to never travel without it, and so far


two accidents averted, one so close

my bumper could taste the seconds

before metal gnarled and knuckled

under speed. But we never hit.


He saved me again. The last

weekend, a friend and I pulled over

in rural Alabama for speeding, blue lights

lit and landing us alone on the interstate


with a cop and all the names we knew—

Bland, Castille, Crutcher, Scott—

a list repeated as often as it’s added to.

I couldn’t decide how safe it was to record,


to place my hands in plain sight, to hold

the basket of my lungs ajar for air.

But I didn’t die. I didn’t even get a ticket.

Slow down officer Derek Jones warned me,


and I slowed enough to collect the shame

fear handed me. Life means

recollecting, so I picked back up

the stone fear his white face weighed on me.


I was scared of what he saw in us,

not targets, but two scared girls

with eyes like emptied night.

My friend is not a girl though. My friend


leaned into the space between cop and me

to stop a possibility, but I couldn’t save them

from the bullet of his she/she/she.

If I’m honest, the cop was nice.


He smiled the way a father smiles.

Said my name the right way when I asked.

Didn’t write a ticket, or ask us to stop

recording. Didn’t shoot.


A good man.               And still

memory sharpened the teeth in his smile

to fangs           and still I couldn’t forget

his gun     and still, ten miles down the road


trying to speak his name, my mouth shaped

slant, rhymed Derek with Garnett, as in

Sheriff Garnett Brooks, who arrested

the Lovings in their home and maybe


it was the hours I’ve spent with his name

but maybe it’s because every cop is him

to me, every cop a hound on prowl

no matter their kindness, their pity


biting through, and I know it’s wrong

to see white men as dangerous but I’m still

scared still angry still hating Derek Jones

for reminding me I feel this way.




Diamond Forde is a 3rd year MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. She has published with or has work forthcoming in The Offing, Massachusetts Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and others. She is currently working on a creative project that investigates the history of The Lovings, the couple whose court case legalized interracial marriage in the United States.