My words

My words

grand mal

We were pedestrian strangers
each known only by our impatience.
You had your parcels
I had my young daughter and a handbag of poems

My daughter asked me later if
I had heard you howl.
Had I seen the parcels spinning wildly through the air
parcels she insists landed squarely at my feet.

I answered no and told the truth.
I saw only the fall.
Not the crumpled lessening I might have imagined,
but the sudden felling of a great oak
surrendered to a greater ax.

I did not tell her what I heard,
the smack of your skull against concrete,
ball against bat in the shadow of our urban ballpark.
Our players in a distant desert
rounding bases in a field of almost summer.

I thought of them as you lay shuddering,
sacrificed under bare branches.
Spare silhouettes cast to harbor
the expanding red halo beneath you

I thought, too, of last night’s dream
Of walking down snowy trails and reaching for the shattered Christmas cherubs,
telling my companion that I believed in lifting up the fallen angels.

I did not lift you up.
Not even as my daughter grasped at my handbag
pulled out a phone and pressed
small fingers into nine one one.
Not even as the newly gathered crowd
waved down busses and police cars,
building a village around your primitive totem.

I stood motionless,
was nothing more than witness.
Becoming the frozen moment of your fractured memory.
Becoming the very last gaze you registered
as separate from your own.


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