By: Gaby Kill

True silence isn't sealed lips
it's unread texts, deleted history
it's a phone that someone never picks up
The line the dead girl's parents still pay for
even though there is no one to answer it.
the principal is adamant on thoughts
and prayers
for her family.

 ring... ring...
I want to talk to this girl, an old friend, who slipped through my palms like warm sand and got ground into the carpet
It’s always the ones you least expect, isn’t it?
cause I can’t remember anymore how many people's voices I can't remember. One student, two students, three… people…
This hell was unforeseen, a bomb waiting to explode in the form of tears
on the cheeks of teenagers who don’t understand that cremated ashes get ground into fabric
ashes are hard to wash out of white converse
ashes make your water fountains taste bitter

 Please leave a message after the tone.
School administrators always try to bridge the gap with cold emails
sent at 11:50 earlier today, titled “Difficult news”.

It is difficult, because my friend has become a statistic.
This morning, we found her motionless on the tile floor,
just as yesterday,
it was the girl who had short hair and cried drugstore mascara
Before that a boy, seventeen years of smile, slipping out of view,
before that, well
no one seems to remember.
is knowing how impossible it is to keep it together when we're all so disconnected.

 ring… ring…
this is a poem for the counselors  who call themselves  advocates.
but think death    isn’t worth the words
when Kansas City's teen suicide rate has doubled in the past decade. While writing this poem, I googled how many people our state has lost.
No results.
Believe me, they exist, but it’s been buried in a pile of “giving support to every individual” and “I know you kids are upset but that rough draft is still due tomorrow.”
This is not to say every adult doesn't care, it is to say that
no one
seems to care quite enough.

 The number you have dialed is no longer in service.
No one seems to care about the skinny girl being taunted for “looking anorexic”,
no one seems to care about the blue-beaten boy whose father only cares about drinking,

no one seems to care about the little kid whose heart stutters when he’s told he is too short, too slow

too weak to be worth wasting breath on,

no one
to care.
about the young woman
from east Delhi,
red hair
gentle smile
kind words
silent voice
still heart
lying in a casket in front of me.


The phone screen glows today’s date and time at me

It’s been three hundred and sixty-two days since I lost her, March fifth.

It’s been three hundred and sixty days since her funeral, March seventh.

And some day,  it’ll be too late.
Because when the line falls flat, a silent hum, sent to voicemail,
that's when the connection truly drops.
I turn off my phone.
and set it down.
I can't do this anymore.