“When the World Stops” by Richelle Buccilli

Richelle Buccilli


A hawk circles the moon. Late March,
the sky is still bright enough to play

in the yard. My son has stopped running
to point out what he thinks is an airplane,

and what he knows is the moon.
What is it that this bird of prey knows?

It can’t be me, my second child:
unborn and everything—my blood,

my voice—sounds muffled to her,
and I don’t actually have proof

it’s a her, but it’s what subconscious
told me to say. In the meat department,

a grocery store clerk lays out the rows
and rows of flesh, red and like bellies

and you realize violence is all over the place:
something has fallen on the floor, or

a bullet enters another man.
What am I doing? I ask myself,

as my son lands on his chin.
His cries feel eternal, a sound almost

distant. The sound that sirens make.
When the world stops to move

away or pray. And the blue columbine,
not hearing any of it, shivers.

from Poets Respond
March 28, 2021


Richelle Buccilli: “My poem is in response to the Boulder, Colorado, shooting. People were going about their daily lives, grocery shopping, until suddenly it turned tragic. I think about how small our lives are, we could be in the middle of an ordinary moment, such as playing in the yard with our children, and we have no idea what kinds of violent things are going on around us, but it’s everywhere. As a mother, I think about the world I’m trying to keep my son safe in. My heart goes out to the families and anyone impacted by this tragic event.”

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