After Columbine, the administrators decided
we should drill but not frighten the children, not
lock down but announce: Teachers get your red folders.
We joked we’d riffle our desks for folders, forget
to switch off lights or lock the doors. We unrolled
butcher paper over windows, practiced crawl and cover.
Even in the dark, live shooter wasn’t possible.
Red folder is a slim memory, twenty years later,
ice storms of shots and so many birds snapped from the sky.
When I was in New England I saw my first bright cardinal
on the grounds of a fancy school and I thought how that flash
was a Christmas card from my youth, red gash of bird
on a snow-covered branch and oh, the berries,
little gestures of goodwill, drawn in crayon.