No Better Prepared

“We’ve been preparing for this
since pre-K”
her voice, too-young for such words
earnestly reported.
Multiple years of practice-
cutting lights
crawling under tables,
to be out of sight
out of line
from extreme propulsion
automatic gun fire.

The security forces
have practiced and prepared for years
learning how to clear
everyday buildings-
schools, stores, churches.
The armed response
has tactics
for active shooters,
in contrast to stand back,

Health care providers
have been responding
to gun inflicted trauma
since the inception of armed conflict.
Their ability to transport,
assess, and intervene-
a miraculous human achievement.

The funeral orchestrators
have had continuing education in assisting
the blood and grief-soaked families.
Specialized coffins are artistically constructed
outfitted with favorite toys, jerseys,
ribbons, and awards.

The whole country
is prepared.
We have becomes so practiced
and ever ready

that when young men
time and time again
show up
to buy assault weapons
and inexplicable amounts of ammo,
it is their right.

We’re prepared,

prepared to lower more children
into the ground
under the blazing flag
of guns for all
and all for guns.

Practiced and prepared
to mourn, grieve,
and bury our dead,
raise our fists
and scream
into the vacuum
of political night.

When do we practice
the disarming of young men?
Not blaming,
just recognizing
unmistakable patterns.
When do we prepare
ourselves to nurture, connect, and include
the angry, ostracized, hurting ones?

When do we stop
practicing and preparing
for violent rampages
and inconsolable loss?
Realizing that all the preparation
to respond
isn’t making the murders of fourth graders
any less inevitable.

When do we
find the heart and spine
to assuage the wounded
not with easy to get
so lucrative,
self-defeating modes of violence,
but with tools of self-love
and the power of belonging?

When do we bury the guns,
leaving the cold metal
to rise only
in arching tribute
to our fallen?

Cynthia Jatul is a biology teacher in a Seattle Public High School. An understanding of nature and a commitment to justice are central to her teaching. She has been published by Appalachia and Catamaran and has had an essay accepted by Canary. Read other articles by Cynthia.