Friday, May 3, 2013

Smeared with Cookie

I've been working on this for about 10 years. It just keeps growing. But I wrote it today because I don't want it to grow anymore. Maybe now my fear can end, because it's all down on the page and it will all stop. Obviously still a work in progress, but I wanted to get it down. I don't have a title yet. Any ideas?

It was September 12, 2001.
I was with a small friend:
Netanya, age 6.

We were coloring.
Netanya looked at me.
Something bad happened, she told me.
Yes, I said, meeting her eyes.
Mommy said someone died.
Yes, I said, nodding.
She chose another crayon.

One person died, she said.
She stopped coloring and looked at me again.
Did more than one person die?
I looked at her eyes, so big, so big.
And I said, Yes. I said, more than one person.
She didn't look away.
Two people died?
Yes, I said.
Then her eyes get even bigger.
Did more than two people die?

More than two? She said again; it was
just a number so big. So big.

It was April 15, 2013.
I was with my husband and daughter, Grace,
whose age we still counted in months, not yet two.

She was blissfully eating a cookie with
peanut butter and chocolate.
Someone died, my husband said.
I looked at him.
One person? How many?
I don't know, he said.
More than one? I said, as we tried
to contact everyone we knew who ran,
who stood at the finish line.

More than two? I thought.
Not again.
Grace grinned, as one smeared with cookie, would.
As kids everywhere, would.
As the kids at Sandy Hook did, earlier that day.
A number so big, that day. So big.

I wiped Grace's hands, held
her to me and forced myself to walk
outside to the swings
where we could swing into the sky, so big.