When you walk across the street
at the wrong time and the garbage truck
stamps its grill into you – because it’s Thursday
and that’s when the trash is collected – when
it throws you two-hundred feet
into the neighbor’s backyard, the neighbor
who stole your mailbox, keyed your motorcycle,
let’s their dog shit in on your
porch, and the blood begins leaving your body
and every bone has shattered – you don’t have to
get up right away. Let yourself cry out
in anguish and anger and it’s not fair and why.
Let the neighbors hear you. Let them come and say
what other people say. Relative truths
about silver linings and stories they insist
are worse than yours – seven stab wounds to the head,
three years in Federal prison, homeless
seven times by the age of twenty-one.
Let them come.
Don’t scream them away. Go ahead and curl up
like a child and wail and pull on your hair.
Let the snot drip onto your cheek and build a small lake
in the grass. It’s okay to rock and gasp
and make a mess of your face for thirty minutes.
Or whatever time you need. You are not required
to get back up right away. Let yourself go.
This is the uncontrollable time.
Let it happen.
You are not made from steel or stone. Your are not
titanium. Let the hurt overcome you
and trust it will end. It will always come
to an end. But until it does, it’s okay to stay on the ground.
Turn onto your back, stretch out your arms and legs
as far as they go, let them bleed out and remain broken
for a while. You might stare into the clouds
without making them into anything. Watch
how they let the wind nudge them north, how they
move through the air as if swimming through warm water.
Close your eyes. Focus now on your body, on one
particular point of pain. The hips, crushed like a can of beer.
Say it out loud. “My hips are crushed like a can of beer.”
Feel the grass poking into every point of contact.
Both elbows, the wrists, back of the head, your heals.
Feel your weight, not pushing down, but held up, braced,
carried, as if this plot of earth were a gurney,
the trees like EMTs looming over you, the sound of their leaves
in the wind asking your name and address, flashing
their lights into you eyes too see your concussion.
They give you oxygen. They take your pulse and blood pressure.
The old world sparrows that live in the branches assure you
everything will be fine. They will take care of the pain.
They will look after the bones and the mind.
Just lie still for a moment longer.
Allow yourself to wait. Focus on where and how it hurts.
Let the blood ooze out with each weak heartbeat. Concentrate
on its unique warmth and scent and wetness. How it turns
your green shirt a crimson so dark you mistake it for black.
Don’t try to stop it. Don’t be afraid to bleed out completely.
Because you are not in the blood.
You are not in the collapsed lungs, the fifteen
compound fractures, the hemorrhage in the brain
or sepsis spreading from the bowls. You own them.
You may place them like trophies onto a shelf somewhere,
labeled, acknowledged, but separate from you.
Once you have come this far, try to roll onto your side,
then up onto your knees and stand, maybe still
a little off center. But standing.
And the people who gathered around you, will have nothing to say.
Some of them may go home, some might linger,
and some, at least this one, will step forward
to wrap the whole of herself into the rebuilt whole of you.