After a three-week gap created by another job and a snow day, I finally limped back to school, bumbling my way north as the slush fell thickly from the sky and the old Subaru's windshield-washer pump gasped and died. Originally the classroom teachers and I had planned to run a little performance contest; but given the events in Newtown and the generalized shell shock that all of us who work in schools are fighting, the teachers weren't exactly in the mood for the sort of hyper-management this would require, which was a good thing, because neither was I.
So before we got started on a low-key version of a public reading, I sat down and reminded the students of the Dexter murders, a local horror that lives vividly in all of our minds, and told them I had written a poem about the event a year before it had even happened. And I said, This is a hard thing for me to keep facing. But poetry is what people turn to when they can't make sense out of anything.
And then I read them this poem, "Rain," by Naomi Shihab Nye.
And then for the rest of the class, I sat in a corner and let them read their own work.