Eighty seconds, my mother says,

Over the telephone.

And she is telling me,

How a girl died, how

She was killed,

Shot point-blank at school

By another student,

With a shotgun, or

How her head was a target.

And I am talking

Over my mother,

Talking loudly now,

Saying over and over

No and I don’t want to know,

Because it is dinner time or because

I have children.

And when I hang up,

The telephone is a ghost,

Dead phantom weight,

Hanging here,

Between the side of my face

And the top of my shoulder blade,

The weight of the girl and what

Happened to her,

And I am turning around now,

To face him,

My four year old son, who is

Sitting at the kitchen table,

Looking at me, and

I am taking his plate away,

Asking him questions,

Saying was it good or are you done,

Waiting for him to answer,

One way or the other,

Even though,

I know,

He cannot say no yet,

Because he has childhood apraxia of speech,

Where most of the words he wants to say,

Cannot come out.

And I am thinking of him,

My son, and

The girl who was shot in the head,

Or the children in Iraq and Syria,

Afghanistan and South Sudan,

All of the places in the world

Where children have no choice

But to live in a world where

Violence happens or

Bombs blow up,

How if they said no,

It would not make a difference,

Or myself,

On the telephone with my mother,

How every time we say

I don’t want to know,

We are like drones,

Hovering in the sky,

Hanging over the heads of children,

Conducting surveillance,

And doing nothing else.

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