Yesterday, instrument of pain in hand
The dentist asks me
“How can you even show up to work every day?
…after Uvalde — y’know?”

I do know. But I wait
until she takes the tool out of my mouth
and then taste blood.
I still love my job,
I tell her numbly. 
But yes, I continue
and wonder if I should confirm
the dark visions she seems to have of schools,
“But yes. It’s there. The kids know.”

Today, I am being trained on how to prevent those same kids
(whose lives we are constantly reminded 
have been surrendered to Moloch
by those who are content with hands full of blood 
as long as they are also full of cash)
Today I am being trained on how to prevent
those same kids
from killing themselves.

I don’t know what so much proximity to so much death
is doing to us
to the kids, to the parents, to the teachers
to all of us
But I can’t believe that it’s good.
Or that it has to be this way.

I think the next time
Someone asks about me
“How do you even go to work each day”
I will ask them what they’re doing to help
Which senators have they called?
Or better yet, protested?
Which politicians and companies do they give money to?
Which of their loved ones have they talked to 
about surrending their guns for good?

Because I do love my job.
I love these kids
the ones who traipse through metal detectors every morning
and know exactly where to hide 
during a lockdown.
The ones who have never lived in a America
where mass shootings weren’t the constant drumbeat of the nightly news.
The ones who are day after day after day
told to imagine their own violent and gruesome deaths.

I want better for those kids.
I know what I’m doing for them.

What are you?