The ghost girl was Little Lucy, no connection to Lucille Ball,
flashed her dimples, red hair on the Capitol Mall, wore smoke-soaked clothes, no shoes for her,
a black hoodie so she wouldn’t catch cold, her own joke. It didn’t matter. Bullets had shredded
her family’s tent in Ludlow, Colorado, when everything she knew had exploded.
Today would’ve been her tenth birthday, she counted eight more siblings, spoke their names,
whispered to visitors, a game she played to make people look up from their guidebooks.
Why they came. To testify at hearings. Drifted past lobbyists with American flags pinned to black lapels, took a number,
sat down, and waited to be called. Betty’s boy, because that’s what people always had called him when he was alive
with Lucy at Ludlow. He took a seat in the second row, found a place to rest his hand.
The Chairman for the President’s Commission on Violence had never seen anything like these kids, if they could see them at all— the way they took to the podium like they were in a bowling alley, and they, the ten Senators, pins.
“Must’ve taken a school bus to get you here,” joked one of the members,
Trying to head off trouble, he bent into the microphone, and smiled.
They stared back as if anything with four wheels could’ve transported them.
The next day the court reporter tried to make a case for automatic writing
terrorists, tampering, some malcontent, a hacker who had skewed the record:
We are not the sons and daughters of doctors and lawyers who go to summer camp,
our parents hid inside mine shafts, and warned us to be quiet.
On our last day here we waited for night. Night dragged on like an unwanted child.
Give us a souvenir, a chunk of sky to bury beneath the coal pit of our graves.
You think we are children. We never wanted to be brave.
* Previously published by Levure Litteraire
Lenore’s poetry collections form a trilogy about love, loss, and being mortal. Her most recent poetry chapbook is From Malls to Museums (Ethelzine, 2020). Alexandria Quarterly Press published her prize-winning flash fiction chapbook, Holding on to the Fringes of Love. She is a non-fiction reader for the Mud Season Review and lives in Oakland, California with Zebra the Brave and Granola the Shy.