Sometimes we say, “This tragedy, it happened far away.
I don’t know what to do. I’m concerned but I’m just dangling in space.”
A poem can lead you through that,
and it is made of action
because you’re giving your whole life to it in that moment.
–Juan Felipe Herrera
Tell them you are not yourself today Tell them what happened some don’t hang on the news like you every violent and bloody report another potential lesson in empathy in the pain of pushing yourself to think about bodies that are not your own Tell them today was the first day you were afraid to come to school how you felt fear creep in like a birth like a parenthood Tell them you took note of your friends online and everyone asking how do I talk to my students about this because you are all teachers now young and full of desire
to be the teachers you needed when you were younger Tell them about your colleague who let himself want just for a moment his own gun tucked away to protect his students to be ready Tell them you can never be ready and how your friend stood at the front of his classroom to reflect on empty desks Tell them about the email from your alma mater instructing you to throw objects when this happens again Tell them you wish you knew more about the victims how much you want to speak eloquently about their lives and how your vocal cords feel anchored to your heart when you share the numbers when forty-five feels much denser than forty-five and how heavy the guilt is for only now taking notice because you and your partner once daydreamed of buying a home in Roseburg and of teaching in Roseburg
Tell them our thoughts and prayers are not enough
Tell them I don’t want to be afraid to come to school I don’t want you to be afraid to come to school Tell them about the poem that’s turning in your gut how paralyzed you feel it’s all you can offer