My daughter and I are singing along to a song on the radio—

                          Hallelujah, Nevertheless—                         

when my sister calls to tell me that the All-American athlete we knew in high school has put a bullet through his brain in his grandpa’s barn.

“What are you guys talking about,” my daughter asks, & how should I know what I’m supposed to tell her: that the world is so full of reasons you’ll want to leave it? 

How one day you’ll end up in this place called middle school where your best friend can cease to be your best friend without explanation? Or how easy it can be to fall in love with something, anything really, and—

Hallelujah, Nevertheless                          

none of these things are under any obligation to let you down easy, to give the best of themselves to you before they walk away?

None of us knows yet that in the coming months a stranger will open fire several blocks away at the university, then turn the pistol to his own soft face, & another girl in my daughter’s class will teach her that this happens so often, we have a word for it.

“What is suicide?” she’ll ask me from the back seat, her fingers aglow with pretzel dust and magenta marker rubbed like spilled ink where her pinky meets her palm.

I’ll remember how one morning in computer class, the sports hero spent all of second period describing the warm O of his girlfriend’s closed lips against his cock as if he had suddenly taken an interest in poetry—the warmth of it, the blood in every last follicle of his buzzcut—while all the other girls in the computer lab begged him to get back to his Excel formulas.

“You can’t even imagine what it feels like,” he insisted over & over & 

Hallelujah. Nevertheless.                         

He was right.

We had no idea.

Sarah Carson is the author of several poetry collections, including How to Baptize a Child in Flint, Michigan (2022), winner of the 2021 Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award from Persea Books. You can read more of her work at stuffsarahwrote.com.

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