March 12, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Fibonacci Blue photo



Ann E. Wallace




Dear Parents



Each email, each text

unexpected, opened with panic

and dread, as dear parents hold

their children in their breath and

in the beat of their hearts

as they hesitate


before looking, to find an invitation

to an open house, a request

for volunteers, or for money, or

an announcement of police on site,

of students locked in, locked down,

and then they wait


again for assurance

of the school’s caution, of steps taken

just to be sure, of officers called just in case

I know this language well, have typed

these words, and received them too—

or they wait


for the moment the uneasy heart has

been awaiting, when it stutters and

threatens to stop, the pain inside tight

and pulsing, the threat not a threat,

because the danger

this time is real.


What new ways to communicate

do we need, to signal to parents

now and this time they should

take precaution, steel themselves

and seek shelter, before checking

their phones?








My mother does not like bridges,

which is interesting because my father built

a career testing them to be sure they hold

the integrity to support those who cross over.

Perhaps years of hearing about maximum load

and stress inspires thoughtful skepticism.


I was raised to be intrigued by the graceful span

of a suspension bridge, with strong pilings

that hold so much in the balance, yet

I learned early the danger is not always where

we expect, in the middle, for those with faith

to traverse from one shore to another.


Emily Roebling learned this the hard way—

the danger is hidden in the solid supports,

for unwitting workers who descend into

the water, held in caissons, encased

in air that has not pressurized, long before

the roadbed might be safely hung between.


Father and son engineered a modern marvel

immortalized in photographs and still standing,

a wonder that brought death and disease,

including their own, while the pedigreed girl

from Cold Spring on Hudson stationed herself

on site to oversee the unparalleled suspension.


From his sick bed, Washington Roebling watched

and instructed until he lost voice and vision,

so when his father’s bridge was complete

it was his wife Emily, who had learned to see

and think like an engineer, but smarter, because

she knew not to enter the deadly chambers.


And it was she who remained standing,

she who was the first person to cross

the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883,

carrying a rooster for luck.



* Written in response to the New York Times’ new feature (of the same name) belatedly memorializing women who never received obituaries in the Times






Ann E. Wallace

Ann E. Wallace writes of life with illness, motherhood, and other everyday realities. Her work has recently appeared in Poets Reading the News, Juniper, The Literary Nest, Eunoia Review, Rogue Agent, The Same, and other journals. She lives in Jersey City, NJ where she teaches English at New Jersey City University. She is on Twitter @annwlace409.

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