As we practice being silent and invisible, a sophomore says,
Would you take a bullet for me, Mrs. Garcia?
In this corner of darkened classroom, teens under furniture,
his inquiry sparks murmurs. Crouching in my dress,
I give him a look that says, You are an insufferable wiseass.
While we wait, in my mind, I try to recite Psalm 23 by heart.
Would you take a bullet for me, Mrs. Garcia? I don’t yet know
that after more drills, future shootings, I soften and see
maybe the boy was scared and deflected fear the best he could.
Though restless, we remain huddled away from the windows.
Fifteen miles down the road is Sandy Hook Elementary.
Over the P.A., the Incident Coordinator gives the all-clear,
delivering us from make-believe that isn’t. I shepherd
students back to Shakespeare, semicolons. Sitting
at their desks, they fill each row, my little ducks.
—from Poets Respond
September 22, 2019
Nicole Caruso Garcia: “A designer launched a line of school shooting sweatshirts, complete with bullet holes. Like many people, I was repulsed. Also this week, Sandy Hook Promise launched a timely PSA called ‘Back to School Essentials.’ As an educator who taught for 15 years in the public school system, this week’s news made me meditate on my own experiences of school lockdown drills that have become necessary, how I have seen them affect me, my colleagues, and our students.” (web)