Drum beats drown out feet on sand
Melodies punctuated by gusts of wind
The cold is only as biting
As headphone decrescendos
Sometimes, there’s water so still and clear that you can see the reflection of everyone else in it.
And they’re happy and they’re sad
And they’re loved and they’re miserable.
And they don’t know you’re seeing them so they do all the little things that people do when they’re alone.
Like wrinkle the nose
And nibble their tongue
And look around
And close their eyes
And wish they were better.
Or the same as they were.
They only do that when they’re alone or when they’re a reflection in still water.
And they think it’s only them.
But it not.
They can’t hear me
Shouting that it’s all of us,
Because the sound doesn’t travel far enough through the water to reach them.
So I just watch.
And wish I was better.
Or the same as I was.
Until something stirs the water
And I’m gone.
It's hard to know what's real
When the stakes for false are so high
When we feel that one wrong move
May cost us precious time.
But what we cannot know
Should be the least of our fears
What we cannot do
Cannot be the cause of our tears.
We are stronger when we must wait
Than we ever are rushing ahead
And if the grass isn't green today,
We'll hope for tomorrow instead.
There are many things to make a tourniquet out of.
A plastic bag isn’t the best.
But when she’s crying on the phone
Saying you need to come
And the traffic lights seem to hold you back
And the elevator has never been so slow
And you say a silent prayer that that door is unlocked
So that when you finally get there
You don’t have to try to break it down.
And then she’s there, on the ground
And you don’t want to step in the blood.
It shouldn’t matter,
But you don’t want to step in it.
A plastic bag is close
And when you tie it around a spoon
You can get it tight around an arm.
You aren’t sure how tight it should be
You aren’t sure about anything.
There must have been a door
And an elevator
You’re trying to recall them
When you pull up to the wrong entrance,
The one that’s supposed to be for the ambulance
You don’t leave until they take her.
Then you can pull away to park
In some 2 hour zone,
For as long as it takes her.
The run back over sheets of ice
Feels like running into the abyss
You aren’t sure if you did the right thing
You aren’t sure how bad it is.
The plastic bag is in the trash.
She’s lying on a hospital bed,
Crisscrossed black lines
A new design on her arm,
Like a tattoo you have removed
In 5-7 days.
She says it’s your fault.
You did this.
You ruined this.
You didn’t save this.
Maybe she’s right.
You try not to step on her words
Because she needs to say them,
But you can’t really hear,
Because the idea of what could have happened
Is still ringing in your ears.
The sound of What If
So much louder than shouts.
So much crueler than blame.
But What If isn’t What Is.
And nothing else is important.
Nothing really matters,
Except for a hospital bed, three lines of sutures, and a plastic bag.
Waves of wrinkled fabric between me and her might as well be a vast ocean,
Storms of worn fluorescent light from a cracked bathroom door
Echo cracks or thunder that sounds like tears trying to be quiet in vain,
Across that depth, she’s the kind of calm that only comes in the deep center of the torrent, with the world coming apart around it,
I could sail to her, with a hand, with a word, and I might not be bashed against the cliff face,
But then I would have to face her, and acknowledge that no body can be that forcibly still without being torn apart by blunt force winds,
And the true cause might not simply be hot and cold winds from her,
But currents that run just deep enough between us to still be passable if someone, anyone, were strong enough to brave them.
I don’t know how to sooth the tears that I didn’t see coming.
When you know there’s a cancer growing
Like a microscopic wave
Rushing down vessel streets
Breaking down tissue windows and ***** doors,
Then you know that the man you’ve been building up will crumble.
When her memory is going
Like so many gusts of wind
Through a filing room
Full of names and faces
People and places
Blowing the carefully organized papers
Out tangled neurofiber doors
You know it’ll only be a matter of time till she blows away too.
But when a woman’s healthy heart
When young, smooth hands
When the one who made it through
May have left something behind,
My pause is not just for effect.
Maybe we think that blessed people
Can’t also be scarred.
That normal CT scans
Can’t hide twisted insides.
So when the problem patients
Are the ones with solved problems,
Our empathy seems in short supply.
But the woman with no pain
May still not want to leave.
And there may be scarier things at home than an empty inhaler.
We’ve written off patients
With an insulin pen.
Sent home with a prescription
For return to life as usual.
We’re caught off guard
And instinctively build new walls
Because we aren’t prepared
For what we don’t think is there.
She was drops into small pools
When she moved.
Splashing up fountains of grace
Rippling through me in waves
Leaving a smell crisp
With fresh possibility.
She was cool leaves rustling
When she spoke.
Breaking the silence in every
Heart between lonely beats
With whispers which drowned
All other sound
And leaving me winded
But holding my breath.
She was crackling firewood
When she touched.
Bursting with warmth
Meant for a hearth far more
Welcoming than my wilderness
Fingers leaving embers behind
With each spark of contact
Leaving me shivering
For her to alight again.