For George Stinney Jr.

By Rethabile Masilo

The boy, at the height of his 14 years, sat on a book
in the electric chair, like a foot in a parent’s shoe,
thinking of the unknown, his legs not touching the floor
but his shaven head at the right growth for the helmet,
enough to meet its inner curvature, sponge and wire mesh.
Perhaps it was a Who’s Who of the important politicians,
judges and magistrates of the State; or a stack of Bibles
he was supposed to swear on with his arse. His parents
had instilled in him the ability to pray, the assurance
of heaven in the next world and beyond / but he was out
of prayers, his tongue dry and full in his mouth
from repeating all the alleluias that a boy can say,
a boy who bore his father’s name and his mother’s face,
counting the seconds before the lever was pulled down
and electricity shot through his body and illuminated
the origins of his face / precious time. He remembered
when he was young, counting Mississippis during
a game of hide-and-seek. When the hangman pulled
the knob down George shut his eyes and said one miss