I’m in Capri Suns.
There’s only one. That’s what they say. I’m buying in packs of eight: 32, 64, 128, 256. I’ll just keep buying. 21 is a multiple of seven and nothing comes in seven yet 21 shots rang out clear as day and folks wept on lawn chairs in the pink-flushed start of winter. An aged Paul Simon sang the Sound of Silence. I roll down Target’s Capri Sun aisle from Original to Sugar-free Sports. My eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light… We’re about the same age—me, you, the shooter, Paul Simon when he wrote The Sound of Silence. And then the next aisle, strangely, the next unpredictable verse. Vicki, I’ll soften it for you, this world. The kids and I stab into the iced dirt; we loosen the brambly bank for pumpkin seeds; point out the shoots when we walk to PE. I’ll walk the aisles until I am as old as Paul Simon, eighty, a multiple of eight. My finger points to the massive orange pumpkin before it folds over on itself. Every minute is just a stab in the dark, a stab in my eye.
In Cakes, I rest.
Christmas cheer and an Elsa cake! The frosting is not quite Elsa Blue it is more of a gray blue like you might see outside. Like, sleet. The castle is disappointing and is not at all a gleaming ice palace you might make if you were suddenly so free and your fingers had snowflakes shooting from them as fast as bullets from a Bushmaster but only snowflakes so melting and non-harming. Elsa looks like Dolly Parton with Lee Press-on Nails. A girl is crying and my child is pointing to cakes he wants for his summer birthday. Christmas cakes.
I’m in Games playing a game in my mind.
It’s a game of “would you rather.” Vicki, would you rather be the big person pushing the cart, or the small person riding facing away. Once once and once in the city I was born asking how should I live. A man wrote that. It’s an example of being the small person facing away. To him I would ask: would you rather live a minute not knowing you had ever lived or live forever seeing your days stacked like desks on the 88th day of school– one on top of the next ready to be disinfected, placed in the deep cave, the one without an exit or an entrance, the darkest natural cave gleaming with undiscovered sapphires in which we place math when we are weary of math?
In Beauty and Cosmetics, I think of you.
I won’t call you a quitter if you can’t go on. It’s a lot. A lot, a lot. Vicki, I’m with you now. I think you’re beautiful with your skin or petals or fur open or falling away or tornbreathing, grooming, shapeshifting, chasing the sun. Life was so slow and now it is fast. I see the grooming. I see this in the lipstick area with all the gleaming tubes like bullets and the sweet little tongues licking the tangles free.
I’m in Wreaths.
Vicki, he had such a furious cry. How could someone so small, you ask, be the symbol of how we should have lived from the start? Maybe he shouldn’t have been at all. Maybe he should have been left at birth. In a blanket. In a basket. On an iceberg. Somewhere else, far away. Chopped tree limbs pulled to decorate the hearth. Were they six years tall or none at all? Vicki, that’s why I buy two wreaths today and toss them in my cart overloaded with Capri Suns. One wreath for you. One wreath to burn. Also for you.
Author note: These five prose poems are part of my manuscript, In Target. The book is about an elementary school teacher who wanders the aisles of Target processing the Sandy Hook shooting. “Vicki” in the poems, the person the narrator addresses in every poem, is Victoria Soto the first grade teacher who jumped in front of the shooter to save the lives of her students. The book attempts to mythologize Soto– to raise her to the level of a mythological hero. I started writing these poems every year on the anniversary of Sandy Hook– a personal writing session– and was encouraged to expand them by my friends. It is a frustrating and emotional book for me to write because I feel very strongly about this event. As a public school teacher, I have been processing this shooting since 2012.
Meredith Kimi Lewis is an elementary school teacher in Seattle Public Schools. She is the author of Miniatures, Marsh Hawk Press (2012) and has published work in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Field, The Iowa Review, Seattle Review, and others. She lives with her husband, two kids, and bunny in Seattle.