What do I do?
Written after Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, December 14, 2012
Inspired by the poet Maxine Kumin, “What you do”
Aurora, rosy-fingered dawn gave her name
to a town in Colorado
where a redhead opened fire
and filled their movie theater
That was last year.
December afternoon, lowers itself to dusk
cellphone loose in my hand
Lake Carmel, mirror quiet
“Getting chilly,” I say to my childhood friend.
Bleep-bleep. Breaking News.
Mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Fairfield County, Connecticut
That’s 26 miles away!
My world drops.
shrivels— two dark-moon eyes, in a watery pear of lake.
Between shock-stabs she and I remember—
atom bomb drills. The dive under our wood-topped metal desk. How we cowered and clung together,
pigtails wedged into the sharp corners.
It hurt to crawl out to a world
about to fry. Please, we whispered—2 little girls,
please don’t let us die!
details to follow
gunned to bits.
I speed dial my daughter in Virginia.
Blurt and squeal-sob the news.
Manage to advise,
Turn off NPR in the car
when you pick Hayden up from school.
Pulse my breath
protect him. Four year old laughing sunshine of my life.
What do I do?
rant for pages in my notebook
squirm—a mass of blood-streak-sleep
night following night.
I plunge into my studio
guns—His Hers, Junior, Princess
fingers stiff, stuck into shooting clay
eye rims red
daylight fled, sink into my bed.
blood- barrels thrust. Blow
sweet-first-sucking-kiss of bullet
god-speed juicy babes.
Strew those pink, brown babies,
make them climb. Put them to sleep
safe in ready-aim-fire-nests.
Spring Guns, Summer Guns, November guns
flames the small room
Like Betsy Ross,
6 white stripes,
place and space rows—6/5, 6/5, 6/5, 6/5
stars on a field of denim blue.
Stitch and glue
tear white sheets
scraps-rip. Become hearts ripped
100 rounds a minute.
Fly and dance the pistols, the rifles the
Sakos™, Sig-Sauers™, Savages™-
swift, above the stripes.
I pledge allegiance (under god), to the flag of the United States of America
my child-hand over my heart.
each day, year
after year, I stood behind the wood-topped metal desk.
The needle pricks my finger.
America under gun loses her stars