Goodbye in America

by Ellora Sutton

I could not be a mother in America.
I could not send my hypothetical little lad off
with a face soft as butter,
a camo backpack strapped to his sweet shoulders,
and eyes that are mine without the shadows
to school.
I could not send my made-up boy
to school in America.
I could not say goodbye to him in America,
five mornings a week in term time,
and wonder if I’ll ever get to say goodbye to him again
as I send him off in a place where it’s as easy to buy a gun
as it is for him to buy a Mickey Mouse pen —
because he needs a license to write in ink,
a background check of the angles and halo curves of his history on paper,
proof that he can handle the weapon
of split-second permanence.
I could not live in America
where a man could buy a gun to shoot my son
than my son could get a pen to write his lessons with.
I could not hug my son in America
because a mother’s love is a lie in America
where children die in America
and nothing is done to keep them safe.
Where a mother’s love is
sending my son to school in America
with a doorstop in his backpack
and instructions to play dead
instead of play tag.
Goodbye in America
should be goodbye to guns
the good guy today
could be the bad guy tomorrow
could shoot my son in the head tomorrow
could shoot my son dead at school tomorrow
could write my son’s inkless story in blood tomorrow
could end my son’s today tomorrow.
Goodbye in America
should never
be goodbye to
my made-up baby boy.
Goodbye in America
should never
have ever been
goodbye to
the seven real children per day
that are shot dead
in America.
to the seven children
that America will
say goodbye to