Ritualwell

Tradition & Innovation

At My Kid’s Gymnastics Class I Read the News from Texas

By Hila Ratzabi
five lit tea lights

The teacher in the blue bandana leads the kids in counting jumping jacks
Each one leaps and squeals, each one boundless joy
Each one in a body. I look down at my phone and the news
Appears in my hand as though someone reading my palm

Could have predicted it. I do the math: 19 kids plus 2 teachers
Equals normal, equals predictable, equals legal
Because the law will not protect us from more guns than people
Because the law will not cure those who love guns

More than people, and this time it should hurt worse, shouldn’t it,
Because we haven’t even blinked since, when was it,
Last week? Buffalo Sandy Hook Aurora AME Church Tree of Life Synagogue
Cities schools houses of worship bodies bodies souls

Each time, each vigil, each prayer, each thought,
No thoughts, this time it should hurt more than the last
Because each time adds up, each life digs up the hole in
God’s dark heart. They love guns so much

More than God, they desecrate
The name of God with their precious
Rights, as if this earth were theirs and not
God’s, as if they had the right

To define life, when life begins, and who
Gets to take it. I’m trying to notice
If it hurts more this time, but it just hurts again
And again, because the numbers

Keep piling up and it’s every week, every day,
And I missed my son’s cartwheel
19 kids plus 2 teachers equals 21 equals everything
I can’t count the lives climbing and spinning and forward rolling

Around me, so many missing, so many not here,
Uncountable. It should hurt more
This time, because each life
Is a world and we keep adding, I mean,

Subtracting, I mean, my son asks if I saw his cartwheel and I couldn’t
See it, I was too busy counting
On my fingers, it should hurt more, it should hurt
Differently this time, shouldn’t it?

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