Duck and Cover

The voice over the loudspeaker
Announces that it is time
Lock the door
Draw the blinds
Switch off the light
By now it’s all routine
Into the corner
Huddled together
On the floor
My partner leans gainst the door
I instinctively crouch
In front of the huddled students
As if by opening my arms
I could block anything,
And protect the most vulnerable
I sit in the moment
Denying myself the luxury of fear
Or speculation
Or even anger or sadness
At the insanity, the sickness
We have brought upon ourselves
That has resulted in a world
Where children prepare for gunfire
And we stop at nothing to create safety
Or the illusion of safety,
An oasis of calm, peace and order
In an otherwise uncertain
And sometimes cruel

Time goes by
Checking cellphones
Awaiting news
The students complain
They are sore and cramped
They tell us
This is no way
For a teenager to sit
For half an hour.
They have no fear
We are superheroes
We can defeat any bad guy
We can stop bullets–
Maybe it’s a lie
But it’s a lie that keeps them calm
And unafraid
It’s a lie that they need, to get through the day…
And we need it too.

Dedicated to the innocent souls who lost their illusion of safety, both today and in the past.

13 thoughts on “Duck and Cover

  1. It is so sad that we live in a world where this is normal. While there are a few downsides to having my highschooler at home (he attends an online public school), on days like this I’m very grateful – having him home safe is one of many benefits to the online school.

    • I think, in general, we’re still safer in school than in a lot of places. But having the drill today, and then finding out there was a shooting somewhere else, kind of threw my mind into a tailspin.

  2. Bethany, what a sad reality. You wrote it so beautifully. To have to act or be brave, to shelter or create the illusion of safety.

    I do have to love the middle schooler (and high schooler) mentality. They will not get us. I love that enthusiasm when it’s harnessed positively!

  3. I was in high school during the Columbine shooting and subsequent shootings, and it affected me now and shaped me as an adult. I can remember the fear of being outside during a fire drill, like a sitting duck. I have to say as an adult most crowded places give me anxiety, I am always looking around thinking “any weirdo could get in here”. But, I try not to let in run my life- it could happen anywhere.

  4. This is so sad our children shouldn’t have to be touched by the horrors that is life. Children used to be innocent, protected by parents and neighbors so they could have the illusion of complete safety. Makes me wonder what children who have only ever known war in their country (Iraq?) will grow up to be. Post traumatic stress disorder would only be the start.

  5. Life and death are always in motion, everywhere. Safety is an illusion. Ours is a stronger illusion than much of the world. But that doesn’t make it any easier. I loved how you wrote this. There is great depth that is not an illusion.

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