by Sofia Escobar
after Natalie Diaz’s “Catching Copper”
My sister has
She keeps the key
on a lanyard with
the periodic table of elements.
My sister clutches the fabric
fearfully—doors cannot be
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,
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.