Student Voices 19.1

By Andréa Yancey

Photo: Joseph Blough

Nobody Knows

Nobody knows
until it’s too late
& the Marine is on your doorstep
with a folded flag
(those flags are extra starched)

Nobody knows
when your heart stops
& the world stops
& you freeze in place

Nobody knows
how tears somehow become the blood
of your brother
or your dad
or your mom
or your anybody
and you can taste them
& have them fade
but they never exactly wash away

Nobody knows
except me
& that Marine
in his dress blues
& white gloves
(to say his hands are innocent of blood)
is standing in front of me
with an extra-starched flag
with a generic apology
arms out
but not holding up
my fallen body
or my fallen brother.

— Andréa Yancey
Franklin High School, Portland, Oregon

Andréa Yancey wrote this poem after watching Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11. When Franklin High School teachers Bill Bigelow, Sandra Childs, and Julie Treick O’Neill were asked to write the teaching guide for Moore’s film, 30 Franklin students volunteered to return to school late in June to watch the film and participate in a series of lessons. Students brainstormed writing ideas immediately after viewing Fahrenheit 9/11. Almost everyone chose to write on some aspect of the Iraq war. For further teaching ideas on the war and terrorism, visit Rethinking Schools online at

Rethinking Schools is looking for students who write or create art, illustration, or photography and would like to contribute to this page. Please send submissions to Catherine Capellaro, Managing Editor, Rethinking Schools, 1001 E. Keefe Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53212.