There is no room inside this room By Hazel Kight Witham

There is no room inside this room

-on arming educators against possible threat

There is little breath to load
in early school day

when we are packed 40-to-1
into chamber

where even our hellos, good mornings
are breathless and scattershot

in such close quarters
there is little room for breath

until we make it,
and we do, at start of every gather:

we sit, mostly still, mostly silent
one minute to return to our grateful breath

ground our time in presence
every day I close my eyes with them

trusting a room full of exuberant
teenagers to save me from the world

we have made for them

all I can ask of myself anymore
in this 40-to-1 chamber

close-quartered, is to show up
take deep breaths,

be kind, be present
love them, see them

listen more

as they begin to reclaim
this lost horizon—theirs

in face of new language
I do not want to teach

lockdown trigger warning
active shooter indiscriminate

words sprayed across childhood’s
sawed-off surrender

what space is there here
that I have not yet secured

what armored chest
is still to be unlocked

let me turn to that work

let that be how I am armed
everyday, intent on

disarming them with love
with space

with breath
with hope

By Hazel Kight Witham

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Hazel Kight Witham is a writer, teacher, activist, and artist whose work can be found in Bellevue Literary Review, Rising Phoenix Review, Angels Flight, Zoetic Press’s NonBinary Review, Lunch Ticket and Lady/Liberty/Lit. As a proud public school teacher, she loves listening to young people and challenging them to think more critically and creatively about their place in the world they wish to live in.

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