Cascade Mall Shooting September 23, 2016

The day before my son was born
my mom, and I took my daughter
to the museum for kids. The one
in the mall, with the semi-truck
busting through the window,
and the box of sand

I walked the halls of that mall,
empty and foreign
as my body is now, void of children.

When I was in high school
we went to this mall on Sundays
if we got the house cleaned by noon.
I bought my clothes from the junior department
at Macy’s when it was still The Bon.
I got my ears pierced at Afterthoughts.

When I look in the mirror,
I have the nose of a witch.
My belly is puffy and sunken.

I went to TJ Maxx, that day
and bought lavender oil
for the birthing tub.
My mucus plug kept spilling
out of me, blood swirling in mucus,
my bloody show.

My son was born the next morning, 10:15am.
I sat on a birthing stool, and my membranes
burst with a pop, and then blood, liquid all over the floor,
and this blue baby, his arms, his legs, his lungs still heavy with fluid.

This week, four weeks from the day he was born
there was a shooting. There is no good
way to put a shooting in a poem.
There is no good way
to put a shooting in a mall.

It was evening. The museum was closed,
but the mall was open. The shooter
walked by that blue truck,
that projects from the window of the museum
before getting his gun, before
shooting up Macy’s.
Before killing:
Sari Lara (16yo cancer survivor),
Chuck Eagan (stopped to help his wife),
Shayla Martin (working at the Estee Lauder counter)
Belinda Glade (probation officer)
and Beatrice Dotson (Belinda’s 95yo mother).

Why do I have trouble thinking of shootings as murders?
I think if them more as earthquakes or car accidents.
They are not sexy. Not museums but malls.

Rachel Mehl lives in Bellingham, WA with her husband and two children.  She has an MFA from University of Oregon, and on-and-off maintains a Joe Bolton fan girl site at Find her @rachelamehl on Twitter.

Photograph by Buzz Andersen.

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