school I never heard of. I'm not even sure if she was real.
It's hard to tell with poetry sometimes. I've decided it doesn't
matter if this was fiction or non-fiction. The feelings are
real. That's what I relate to.
After the Death of Anna Gonzales uses poetry in many voices to
depict the pain and loss that classmates felt after Anna
committed suicide. I chose to read this book to find some
understanding about my brother's suicide. As I read the poems,
I felt as if I could have been one of the voices. I am one of
them. We are the people who are left behind. We try to find
sense in something that is truly senseless.
Two of the poems spoke strongly to me and I would like to share
them now. The first one centers around an empty classroom chair.
For me, it's the little things. His glasses... A favorite
t-shirt... even a pen left out on his desk. Mundane items that
meant nothing before. Now they are treasures and relics. Things
we cherish and use to memorialize the person who is gone.
The second poem illustrates the heart break of losing your
hero... That special family member who was supposed to be there
forever to keep you safe and watch you grow. I know I lost my
hero the day my brother killed himself. And, yes, as the poem
says, I died too.
from After the Death of Anna Gonzales
by Terri Fields
Ms. Mason, English Teacher
"Death be not proud."
"Do not go gentle into that good night'"
Fragments of poems I've taught.
Can't finish them--can't think how they go.
Brain too numb to truly believe.
That empty seat in the third row. Anna will be back. She must
be. Quiet, sweet'
A face framed by long lush brown hair. Almond eyes always seemed
luminous. Giving no hint that this unnatural sleep would be her
I've tried to teach through literature
The wonder of life.
Yet the quiet rebuke of that empty chair
Speaks louder than the most vocal of student skeptics.
I cannot take my eyes from the spot.
"There in the sudden blackness, the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing--nothing at all."
Of the daddy
Who introduced me to Winnie-the-Pooh.
Who sang every verse of kids' silly songs.
Who whispered the lullabies that lured me to sleep.
Of the dad
Who cheered my summer softball
Even if I never got a hit.
Who promised I would always be
His most perfect princess.
Of the father
Who guaranteed he'd be the proudest of all the parents
At my college graduation.
Who vowed he'd walk me down the aisle
even if I married at forty. Who predicted no one would be a
Of a morning last summer
When I learned
My hero had taken his own life.
When that was the truth,
Everything I understood of love and safety
Was a lie.
So, Anna, did you know
That when you kill yourself
Those you say you love,
They die too?