What Exactly I Would Say

By Mallory Nygard

Honorable Mention, Poetry, Create | Encounter 2022



How cruel

that I have to imagine

what exactly I would say

to the children

who would hide in my closet

if a man bent on death

and destruction

chooses our school

for his production.


When the lights are flashing

and the speakers are calling

out the final act,

I would close the door

behind me.

I would not let him

find an audience

among us.


I would hold their hands

so fiercely they would leave

with a mark.


“This is the most terrible thing,”

I have rehearsed, “and

you are not alone.”


I would stake the whole

of my life

and theirs

on the weight

of that “and”



Artist Statement:

Mallory Nygard lives and writes in East Tennessee. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Relief: A Journal of Art and Faith, North Dakota Quarterly, Ekstasis, Amethyst Review, Pigeon Parade Quarterly, and Ever Eden Literary Journal. Her first collection of poetry, Pelican, was released in 2021.

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