For Madisyn, Tate, Hana, and Justin

Photo by form PxHere

Today, my son, you ate two toasted waffles
as the early light came up
outside our windows.
Two waffles and four strawberries
steeped in syrup
and as you went off to finish
getting ready for school
I thought of the four teens
shot dead in Michigan,
Madisyn, Tate, Hana, Justin
and what they had for breakfast
on their last morning of school.

I thought of the families
aching and raw of – how many?
Of almost 400 kids since 2009
at school to learn, not die
and on the drive to school
as my voice asked about your sneakers,
my heart wondered
if the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas
school hallway lockers
hold the laughter of their 17 dead
or if there lingers an odor of terror
when friends rest a cheek against the cold metal?

Two things are sure.
One, there is no room in those spaces
for thoughts and prayers impotent without action.

Two, nothing holds grief like a parent’s heart.

And as I watch you walk away from the car,
into spaces we all want to trust
I wonder
what those hearts remember of their babies?
A particular expression?
A flash of eyes in a playful moment?
Or what shoes they had on that day
walking away?

12/5/2021 – S. Murphy

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