Picking Up the Pieces: The Aftermath of Terror in Uvalde

(a poem re: the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas)

I wrote Picking Up the Pieces about what happens after the press leaves. The murderers tore the children into pieces. The janitor cleaned them up.

A few hours ago it was loud here.

Shouts of joy, questions, and last days of school excitement

A silhouette of a person in a custodian's skirted uniform mopping a floor, illustrating "picking up the pieces".
Picking Up The Pieces

turned into screams.

Bustle and hustle as officials, trying desperately to hide their horror

                and function for those who wouldn’t be able to, today.

Ushering parents, grandparents, foster parents, older siblings, aunts, and uncles in

      to have their hopes crushed as their child’s body was crushed.

Loud with sobs and screams and cries of “no, no, no, no, no”.

Then loud with tense voices directing those picking up the pieces.

Tiny, fragile pieces, pink and brown and red with dark or light hair and bright accents

of cloth still clinging to them.

Til all that is left is me, with my bucket and my mop and my bright yellow rubber gloves.

In my silence, you can hear the slosh of the water

                the slap of the mop

                the crank of the handle as it squeezes the bloody water out of the strands.

You can’t hear the tears that pour out of my eyes, a silent witness.

Bearing the unbearable.

Witnessing the unutterable.

And knowing that somewhere, someday soon,

Someone else will be picking up the pieces.


Please share this. Rage and sorrow fill us. Let those feelings now lead us to action.

Four By Four: Protecting Your Physical Boundaries(Opens in a new browser tab)

Jennifer Liles is the owner and webmistress for Jenni's Space and Responsive Mental Health Services LLC. She is dedicated to mental health and human rights for freaks, geeks, and queer folk. She uses the Jenni's Space label for places where she combines education about, advocacy for, and celebration of mental health and human rights. This information is primarily for neurodiverse people, people with mental health issues, people who are on the queer spectrum, disabled people, and Black and Indigenous and other people of color. There are also discussions for privileged people about privilege and how it intersects with human rights work.