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The Forum Prize

Katrina Murphy
Charleston, SC

 

School Started Today

School started today. Summer is officially over.
The street is still blocked in front of the church, courtesy of the city.
The flowers are all fresh; Mylar balloons offering sentiment still float.
But today, a hot, sticky Monday, two months past THE DAY, no one 
stands on the sidewalk, taking pictures of the aftermath, holding onto the hand of their 
loved one more tightly, no one breaks into “This Little Light of Mine,” no news people pan the 
crowd, stopping on the most “representative” one.  School started today.
Bells clang all over the county, cacophonous and dissonant,
the same kind of bells everywhere, in all the schools in the country.
Two small girls who have no father still have to go to school.
They’ll have no first day picture with their daddy. Summer is officially over.
The street is still blocked, but no one is praying. No one is singing. No one is marching. 
Summer is officially over.  School started today for two little girls who have no father.
Roses wilt in the heat of the Southern day, silk funeral arrangements blare 
their artificiality. Best intentions be damned.
People have gone back to their air-conditioned lives and swimming pools.
School started today. What will they teach the two little girls who have no father?