Mark Bradford's "150 Portrait Tone" Los Angeles County Museum of Art
I do not pray except for mercy. I may sit on the side of Sophie's bed in the early hours of the morning, pulled there by a groan and thrashing legs and arms, and I'll curse in my mind even as I stroke her tiny face my grimace an extension of hers and I will ask for mercy. Mercy. I do not pray except for mercy. There is such a thing, isn't there? Not the prayer but the mercy. Today another ten children were gunned down by another child. Mercy. My own son rages at the world says hopeless but his strong body intelligence the way he moves belies the cynicism. Be merciful, I think. This morning two small yellow-breasted birds splashed in the fountain just outside my bedroom door. Yet, the earth is betrayed, buckling, relentless. I sip coffee. Sophie slept. Even so, I have a past, you know, where or is it when I did terrible things. I have a past, you know, when I was terribly hurt. I am sorry. Yes. I am, too. What, I think, might have happened if I hadn't done that? Yet still, mercy. I have held Sophie in my arms, a pieta without prayer. The line of those who have hurt her, even indirectly. We must show mercy. What might have happened had Sophie been given cannabis medicine in those early days? Would I have crouched in the shower and wept, lay my forehead on the tile in thanksgiving for mercy? I have not prayed except for mercy. Those children dead, this earth, that person, that love betrayed and having been betrayed, my son, my son, my daughter. Mercy. There is such a thing, isn't there? Not the prayer but the mercy.