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Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri received a BS in Education from New Jersey College and an MA in creative writing from Goddard University. Her most recent collection is Other Voices, Other Lives (Alan Squire Publishing, 2017). In 2019, she was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Cavalieri currently serves as the poet laureate of Maryland.

By This Poet

1

Safety

for Ken Flynn

When you were in the 9th grade and I was in the 7th, you were

a crossing guard keeping order at Junior High School number 3.

          No one

was disobedient when you wore that wide yellow strap across

          your chest—

no one bruised another, caused trouble, or so much as threw a

          stone—

no one cracked a joke about you, a man in uniform. How did

that yellow vest feed your soul to let you know someday you’d

fly a plane just to feel the power of a strap across your chest.

          What

liberation— to know how to be in charge— strong and capable—

flying through gunfire and lightning again and again to come

          back to me.

Although we were young, you were 15 and I was 13, since then, 

          I’ve never

known the world without you. Now I must be 12.