She Was Instructed to Hide Inside a Locker

By Sheila Squillante

—for my daughter, after Parkland  


Dear teacher, my daughter is terrified

Dear locker, yellow metal, filled

Dear blood on the floor.

It’s how things are. Dear locked door

My daughter is supposed to++++++++++++++++++++++++hide inside.

Dear bullets that tore
through your
+++++++++++organs. Dear dear. Dear boy holding shut

the door and the patient nurse. Dear++++++++++hallway which cackles

++++++with voices+++++++++++++Dear common sense. Dear duck and cover. Dear run hide fight

Dear teacher, my daughter

++++++++++++++++tore through+++++++++++++++++++++++the world Dear loving.
++++++++++++++++Dear slaughter

to hide inside. Her

+++++++++++++++++++++++around the playground.

Dear teacher

++++++++++on the floor. care cackles

+++++++++++High+++++++++++ceilings take++++++++++++++++++++++hallway

Dear god. Dear America. Dear gun. Don’t You

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++see me? Dear principal. Dear janitor. Dear locked door buzzer
My daughter thinks of her body as yellow metal, filled with some other child’s afternoon.

Dear safe
space. Dear laughter. Dear run
++++++++++++down the street+++++++++++our house waits
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++empty. Dear light switch.

Dear children to hide.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++Dear parents like ghosts.

About the Author

Sheila Squillante is the author of the poetry collection, Beautiful Nerve (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), and three chapbooks of poetryRecent work has appeared in places like Copper Nickel, North Dakota Quarterly, Indiana Review, Waxwing, Menacing Hedge and River Teeth. She  teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at Chatham University, where she edits The Fourth Rivera journal of nature and place-based writing. From her dining room table, she edits the blog at Barrelhouse. Her blog is here.

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