Shouting into camera one, bright lights,
flashy backdrops in blue and red, a desk in a warehouse,
the popping vein, the buzz cut, and angry spittle.
Truth doesn’t try so hard. A brown suit at a desk,
answering calls: “Hello, this is Social Security.”
And I ache for the aunts and uncles,
the parents with eyes rimmed red
waiting on hold for hours to report the murder
of their beloved kindergartner.
Reporting in rote the nine-digit number
memorized from doctor visits and new school forms.
an intake of breath, “I need to report a death.”
Then the voice on the phone: “Please hold.”
Confirmation is quiet, not flashing across
a chyron to stir up dissent and misinform,
but waiting on hold as the elevator music plays,
hands holding hands— around the kitchen table
as we all descend.
By Eija Sumner
A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America
Eija Sumner is a writer and illustrator from the Inland Northwest. She is currently working on her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Hamline University.