Ceremony: For Sandy Hook, After 10 Years

person holding lit tea light candle near rows of other lit tea lights

For the children, teachers and parents of Uvalde, Sandy Hook, and all who have died and all who have survived school shootings

 
Ten years since Sandy Hook,
my daughter is in first grade now
receiving her first siddur.
It is June –
She is older than they got to be.
 
There’s a picture of my girl on the ceremony program, 
hot pink bow on her headband,
hugging a tiny Torah.
I can’t stop staring.
 
How I am willing the letters of that Torah
to fly off the scroll and weave themselves into a bulletproof vest, 
to weld themselves into a suit of armor.
 
Abra Cadabra! 
Ken Yehi Ratzon
Ken Yehi Ratzon!
Ken Yehi Ratzon!
 
Eytz Hayim Hi 
We say
It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it –
this Torah of truth.
It is a sheet of seed paper
You planted within our people.
We root the seedlings in our children, 
mix in water, sunlight, earth.
We pray they will keep growing.
 
Modeh Ani 
The first graders thank God for their ears,
their eyes, their hands, their feet.
(All still there)
 
Elohai Neshamah
The first graders thank God for their souls, 
a new sheet of paper each day.
 
Mah Tovu
Ha-Morah Sue reminds our children of the magician who came to curse our people 
and instead saw how beautiful we were with our open tents. 
He blessed us instead.
 
Letters, I plead,
fly into the mouths of those who would curse children,
tongue-twist their curses into blessings.
 
Letters!
Drill yourselves into the heart of the gunman
until he believes he is good enough,
too good to steal lives.
 
Letters!
Tap him gently above the lip,
Fold yourselves into a swaddle and rock him 
until he remembers that he and they and all of us are beloved children,
worthy of life.
 
Letters! No more standing on ceremony!
 
If only words could turn swords into plowshares.
If only words could turn guns into gardening tools,
digging small holes in the soil
for seeds
not caskets. 
 
Eleh devarim
Words,
these words.
If only these words could reverse the rivers of weapons,
the earth heaving and
waterlogged.
 
God shrugs.
Lo bashamayim hi
“I can’t do these things for you anymore;
it’s your turn now…” 
God promises to pray for us.
 
Please, I cry out,
next time one of these boys sets out to buy a gun,
send an angel to stand down his donkey,
mess with the spark plug in his grandmother’s truck.
And if it comes down to it,
swallow him up in the sea.
 
Part the sea of cowardice 
in Congress
so that a bill can pass through.
We will sing and dance with it.
We will sing and dance with each other,
timbrels stretched to the sky.
 
We would
if we could
turn all the rifles into tambourines.
If we could
we would turn
the bullets into bells.
 
Teach us to spin apart the light in this dark.
Teach us to make order out of chaos. 
Teach us to make worlds out of words. 
 
Teach us to turn crossbows into rainbows. 
Let the floods of grief give way.

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