After a Mass Shooting, I Dream | Jared Povanda
Updated: Sep 23
If a gunman stalked the halls of my high school while I attended, if our lockdowns weren’t precautionary, weren’t used to gossip or pass test answers back and forth, I wonder what I would have done. Every molecule screams hidehidehide without pausing for breath. But the body does strange figure eights when the brain is thrown into a panic. If everything splintered to eggshell, if blood bloomed slick petals on the walls, perhaps I would’ve charged forward. Perhaps, even tomorrow, in a Walmart or a food festival with friends or at church, knees still carrying the softness of the kneeler, my hands will cover his hands before he blows me away.
Dying of hypothermia is supposed to feel like falling asleep. Dreaming to death. What does dying of a gunshot feel like? Is the answer dependent on the location of the wound? Heart versus gut versus spine? What does a fawn understand when facing the barrel? What could she tell me about the impermanence of things?
Crows hold funerals for their dead. The eyes of their young in America shine bright blue, and when everything inside them turns to night as they age, when they gather around their fallen to see if a threat still targets their murder, talon to talon and beak to beak, I imagine their communing feels a lot like screaming, like dropping a stick of dynamite down a dark hole, like anger and fear festering until flying is the only answer that makes any conceivable sense.
I dream of children running in a cold-sweat panic, chips of bone gashing the air.
Jared Povanda is an internationally published writer and freelance editor from upstate NY. He has been published in Lammergeier previously, as well as in CHEAP POP, Maudlin House, Back Patio Press, and Riggwelter Press, among others. Find him online @JaredPovanda and jaredpovandawriting.wordpress.com