Rejecting Copper

by Sofia Escobar


     after Natalie Diaz’s “Catching Copper”




My sister has

a plan. 


She keeps the key 

on a lanyard with

the periodic table of elements.


My sister clutches the fabric

fearfully—doors cannot be

left unlocked. 


My sister’s plan 

is two-fold, all speed,

for the outside is just a room

and its emptiness. Like a vacancy—

you should see my sister’s students 

make a hideout, hiding life 

behind protected walls.


My sister loses 

the race all the time—

when the door doesn’t lock in time,

she risks fatality.


My sister searches the room,

the windows for exposed daylight,

a black shade drops down. 


Eventually, my sister calls out,

Dismissed, drill, dismissed

the kids come running, talking.

The fear always stays

within them all. When the drill becomes

real to them, unlocked doors

leave a mark.


My sister is at fault

for jammed keyholes

because the key won’t make a click

and want to see her struggle intently. 


My sister tells sixth graders,

They will never hurt you

with me there first.


My sister, who doesn’t believe in prayer,

prays for them despite not believing; it’s funny

how the anti-religious become prayerful

in a state of panic for others, in

this God-created perfect world. 


My sister’s students are gifted.

An academy of Catholics. It has a church,

library, cafeteria. If they are lucky,

no intruders. If not, a broken community, a memorial,

a statistic.


My sister says she would die

for her students. If my sister dies, 

my family would be lost. 

If my sister dies,

I’ll never trust God ever again—

my faith is for saving people. 


I wouldn’t go so far

as to call myself

a hero, my sister says. 

But my sister’s intention

is always heroic like God.

My sister is holy. 


You could say my sister’s students

saved her—the way she loves

filling their heads with knowledge.

Yes, my sister’s students 

saved her, makes her

save them too.



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