It was not snowing,

the shopping center was not 

shut down for three, going on four hours. 

We were not in a distant 

northern city, and the bed we didn’t share 

was not rented. The television

didn’t cover the events, there was no 

discussion of long guns, hostages, 

or possible motives. Nothing was political, 

and I didn’t call home or send 

a message to a friend to learn

his mother was not shopping there,

in the town in the state in the country

where this has not become part of living. 

My fingers didn’t ache of cold

and questions of

how not to speak

about this not happening.

We didn’t flip through the channels, 

I wasn’t driven to distraction by lack of details, 

and you did not ask me (repeatedly) to forget this,

to never think about it again. The distance 

between people huddling in windowless offices 

and us was not obvious, and I was not ashamed 

to be in a restaurant, tomato sauce hot

on my cheek. When we returned, 

our phones did not buzz to life 

with word from relatives

who were not safe, we did not turn

the television back on to see

a police lieutenant without tears

explain that the suspect was not

captured. She did not refer to the people

who were not seeking assistance

in the medical building by something

other than their names. She didn’t say

he carried bags into the building

with him, she didn’t refuse 

to reveal more information

on the suspect, or why he did not do

what he didn’t. The next day, the papers

did not share his name, his picture

was not framed to show his eyes

as someone searching and desperate.

His mugshot did not stir something

within me, he didn’t appear

in any way similar to the others

who have not killed, and I was not conflicted,

not seeing in his face a man I did not know.

His cheeks and eyebrows weren’t familiar,

did not make me think of the neighbor

across the street who didn’t house a cabinet

of guns his not-adopted son and I didn’t find.

Years later, his son did not bring one of the pistols

to school. I am not trying to contextualize why 

these images of wild white men do not keep me

awake at night. I do not imagine what they might

have thought. So when I am in a subway station, 

or a theater, I do not remark how it is a wonder

the numbers aren’t higher than they are not.

This weekend, I didn’t surprise you by saying 

it wouldn’t be so easy in this northern city 

of underground passages. No escape

when the gun does not go off.