Nineteen and Two – Los Angeles Times


I mourn nineteen children I never knew.
I mourn the untied shoelaces and the Velcro straps,
unzipped backpacks and incomplete homework.
Their good grades in school
and the poor too.
Their gold stars and bad grades,
their hair braided so tight with bolitas
before breakfast, their head ached until dinner.
How they crumpled their faces at
their baby nails and communion shoes,
straps marking their skin-colored ankles.
How while crossing a street,
seek solace from their fear
their fingers already knew
cling to each other.

I mourn their two teachers
who looked like my mother
my tias
my abuelas
in a past life,
younger faces of the people I love.
I mourn the lost lunches
and lesson plans
on the left, arranged on their desks.
Notes and suggestions to their students,
spared thoughts they scribbled for themselves.
The outfit for each day scheduled before the start of the week
ironed by hand and hung there in the closet,
the clothes they will never wear again.

By the way,
my dad scolds the texas police
their lack of urgency
their handcuff defense
taste their body
to keep them from begging, tearing for free
or kick down school doors in their fury.

I want to ask him,
If everyone had been white in this school,
all the blonde locks and fair faces,
the kind easy to find and easily missed,
would the police have intervened?
Would they have risked their lives
to save a child they did not claim?
Or would they still have left nineteen children
and their two teachers for dead?

But I already know that these are the wrong questions.

In place,

what are we doing
when we die in the hands
of a shooter who was one of us?
A boy who shared the rhythm of our name
and spoke the same language with
the same tongue in his mouth,
rather than a white man
with a colonized mind
and a gun in his hands
this country considers its right to handle?

I don’t mourn him.
I do not know how.

I mourn a community breakdown
to seek a better life
only to have it removed instead.

I mourn the children who survived.
Who remember those who did not.
Who now bear the burdens alone.

Sofía Aguilar is a Los Angeles-based Chicana poet and author of the upcoming collection, “STREAMING SERVICE: season two.” @sofiaxaguilar

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