Offshoots- Kristen Wood

ap-parkland-school-shooting-vigil

My 9-year old daughter

is shaking,

unable to sleep.

Panic overtakes her.

I clasp her hands

and remind her

to focus on what’s real,

repeating

breathe

breathe

breathe.

It is hard to quell

a panic attack

by focusing on reality

when the reality is

she found out

why the flags are at half-mast.

But what if it happens here

what if

what if

what if?

I offer unassured assurances.

I breathe

breathe

breathe.

She knows

her uniformed, conservative school

on lock-down.

She knows

police swarming

her brother’s junior high.

Reports of guns

and danger

and crouching out of sight

and staying in the bathroom

if that’s where you are when the shooter comes

and dark paper on windows

and teachers who will

bar the door,

human shields.

My daughter suffers from anxiety

because she cannot

ignore

dismiss

accept

the world around her

and her mind reminds her

that the truth is scary.

It could happen

here

here

here.

It happens

here

here

here.

They need their guns

and they fly their flags proudly,

even if they have to be at half-mast

too often.

My hand would only cover my heart

at that flag

if there were a shooter coming

and I had to protect it

or her.

My child is not your collateral damage.

No more teacher-heroes.

No more kindergarten casualties.

I want my daughter to

breathe

breathe

breathe.


Kristen Wood is a mother of five, a writer, a reader, a student, and an aspiring librarian. She has had her work published on Mothers Always Write, and is an ongoing contributor to the online magazine, Still Standing. She is also a proud pop culture geek and a champion napper. She loves to make people laugh and make people think, and if she can do both at the same time, even better.