Everyone’s Past It


When Jube, who will be 12 in a month, walked in from school today, I asked if I could read him something for his feedback. He said sure in his smooth way, flipping his hair out of his face as he plopped onto the couch feeling important.

I first read out the title to make sure he remembered what and where Uvalde is. His scrunched face signaled the need for a reminder. Before I could finish my explanation, he blurted out: “I’m just saying… It might be a little too late to write this poem, Mommy. Everyone’s past it…I’m just sayin’, Mommy.”

To The Parents of Uvalde

In this time of uneasy
school drop-offs,
I stiffen at every blip and ping
of my phone to make sure
the kids are still alive.

Two lockouts in a week and I’m beat.
My bones ache with the what-ifs
parents in Uvalde never got to consider.

We rushed there when we got the news,
waited outside school to collect grown boys and girls
as if it were their first academic hurrah.

Numb middle schoolers met their parents’ watery eyes
with myths of men pointing guns and a heroic arrest:
some kind of Grand Theft Auto video game fantasy.

When it was just a man with dementia banging the door for an education,
the kids went back to their worlds unruffled. Almost pissed.
But we just can’t be careful enough these days, so…

I fret for the man lost, for our kids who forget too fast
But mostly for the parents of Uvalde:
The flavor of the month for thoughts and prayers.

Next month it will be another school 
in another formerly unpopular American town.
And I just hope ours remains forever nameless.
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