Victoria Soto

In the poem I show to no one, a young teacher hides her students from a gunman, lifts them into cupboards—her hands smoothing their hair, closing cupboard doors. Thousands of …

A cover of an old issue of The Walrus
Photograph by Raina Kirn and Wilson Barry

In the poem I show to no one, a young teacher hides
her students from a gunman, lifts
them into cupboards—her hands smoothing

their hair, closing cupboard doors. Thousands of miles
away, snow falls on a small northern town
where I write, Twenty children fell as snow. The light

turned less familiar as it reflected
off their bodies. I’ve never been to Connecticut,
but I imagine a town hall filled with photo albums,

yellow roses, teddy bears, family members circling
small tables, retelling the story of twenty
short lives: they woke, ate cereal, and a stranger walked

into their school with his hands full
of guns
. I stay awake, clicking through holes
in the Internet, finding her photo, Victoria, thumb-sized

with dark hair, light eyes, clear skin. She smiled
crisply at the camera and then, how much later, she hid
children in cupboards and turned

to the shooter to collect a violence the television
calls random. It turns over in me, repeats as snow
repeats—on the radio, television, in the thin voices

of my neighbours—when twenty children fell,
the world felt less familiar
—and, falling again with each
retelling, the snow and the stranger,

the teacher who smoothed their hair.

This appeared in the April 2014 issue.

Kayla Czaga
Kayla Czaga is the author of the poetry collections Dunk Tank and For Your Safety Please Hold On.

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