by Sydney Lea

    after the Newtown massacre

After school treat, reads a certain crossword clue.
For an instant I’m dizzy with rage at the one who conceived of it.
26 Die in Shooting at Connecticut School,
said this morning’s headline, and I wonder how on earth the woman
who wrote the clue could have dreamed it up when that
sort of horror lay in waiting?  I need my head examined:

she no more knew those grade schoolers’ deaths were looming
than I did beforehand.  Like any, she likely made her way
to work, insouciant, or watched TV, or went walking
with a dog.  Or maybe she looked through a kitchen windowpane,
the same as I look now at chickadees,
pine siskins, redpolls, tufted titmice, finches and jays

all crowding a feeder, as though this clamorous mass
of birds were merely decoration, and tiny hearts
weren’t frantically beating within those flimsy breasts
and that sharp -shinned hawk didn’t lurk in a treetop.  I’ve been
playing a game,
believing its frivolous challenge would keep me smart.
I own rifles and shotguns, locked away in another room,

having been a hunter, mostly of birds, lifelong.
I’ve gone to jobs, watched sports and news on my own TV,
taken much for granted, gone out with a slew of dogs,
some of which I followed on wild things’ scent in fall.
I’ve done whatever I thought assigned to me,
just as I did years back as a little boy in school.