Kerry Morrison
missing. is. so. much.
(for joy coviello, fourth grade teacher)

with all due respect to the dead
i do not have enough time
in my present life to ever convey
on unyielding paper
how it feels to be asked
to be photographed
by your flesh and blood envy
your heart’s dripping desire
because she knows why tadpoles
their tails, even if she doesn’t know
where they go.

the boulder i sat on that day hurt and
my smile was stupid and fake
(she developed them herself
and mailed the black ‘n’ white
home. she knew i loved getting mail.)
it didn’t matter that she took
everyone else’s picture that recess.
i was in love.

she called me a writer before
i knew that people could be called
before i knew that passion
and pen sustain breath
transcend death
ever hers a year later
from a gunshot to the head
delivered by the same right hand
which wrote on my report card
that last quarter when summer
manages to leak into the classroom
even though the blinds are pulled
and the café is still serving hot lunches,
as i pushed aside my wholehearted
dedication to being everything she was
replaced it with a newfound love for our neighbor’s pool

“truly a pleasure to have in class. I know she will
be a bright star in a creative sky. I’ll never have
another student like her.”

i see now the grand irony of her statement
rather, i feel it
in night sweats after THAT dream
where she is
my fourth grade arms straining
to save Joy
and missing.