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Gunshots trigger memories / memories that snap from the recoil of repression / repression that builds with every cock of the hammer / hammering headaches that compound into emotions rattling explosively / exploding through the metal chamber / 

My body is intact but my mind has collapsed.

There are holes through the door where someone stood mere minutes before but no one was hurt no one was hurt no one was hurt physically but what about those brain chambers haunted not / just by what happened but also by what had not / shell shocked and rocked to the bone, don’t tell us to calm down and collect our frozen skeletons and carry on as if this was a summer dalliance or simple prank gone wrong—bullet holes adorn the door./ The brass handles are too heavy to lift and for some souls this is all too much to handle / cheeks have been turnt, eyelids have been burnt by tears of gasoline because this forest fire consciousness has scorched through our senses and what we need is the air we cannot breathe because our windpipes are crammed with “it’s okay so be okay” / “what happened happened” / “so get over it.” / Get over the bulleted events as if they never happened because at least it’s just one bullet and not a magazine / at least it’s just blood and not a dead body / at least it’s just a night lockdown and not a full-blown quarantine / at least you didn’t even get hurt, this is nothing – 

Won’t you cock the hammer and shoot back in time, walk in the shoes of every student who has walked a tightrope tensed in violence in their lifetime, feel the blood rush through our veins and watch the red leave our faces and sit with our bodies in rooms that don’t lock, hiding from a danger unknown with hearts beating so fast they could stop — how can you still look us in the eye and command us to be fine, stare down our trauma and beat it to submission because you want us to hear you yet to our silent screaming you refuse to listen — 

Bullets lodged in the chamber, memories ignited at the pull of the trigger, shots downed without consent and sent to the bloodstream to be caught in conflict between the past and the present and we are conflicted there has been a collision between a past lifetime of living on land mines and the contemporary chaos of what conspired Friday night- but we are commanded to breathe, and allowed only enough oxygen to keep going because this college demands excellence

And anything less is an inconvenience. 

So we will take our deja vu and anxiety and pour it in our coffee, douse our faces in holy water, and wake up for class the next morning.


~ Maaheen Shaikh `25

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