The Danger in Knowing


I hear him sobbing and howling, coughing, choking on the build-up
of saliva and mucus in the back of his throat that is suffocating him
and I want to hold him, coddle and cradle him and whisper, "I'm here"
but I can't force myself up the staircase that appears longer
than the fourteen steps, and I can't remember the last time
I hugged him or even wanted to, and I can't recall ever seeing him cry
and I wonder if I'm strong enough to handle it-to watch and stand
and watch the rock in my life crumble in front of me on the side
of the bed, because I do not understand what it's like to lose someone
and I do not want to catch the disease of understanding.
I'm sure he's praying to God, asking nicely for her back, then
cursing God when she doesn't come back, because now he's thinking
logically and now reality is setting in and he is still miserable;
he still remembers calling her "Dee Dee" when he was five
and being sung to sleep nearly every night by her angelic voice
and playing whiffle ball in the backyard on the weekdays before
dinner and never sleeping in on Saturday because of her
cheerleading practices at the house and giving her his ten-speed bike
when she went away to college, never seeing his ten-speed bike again
talking to her about his girl problems and his school problems and
his football issues, because she was more understanding than Mom
or Dad or anyone he knew and, oh, how he cherished her and, oh,
how he wishes he could have said goodbye, how he fantasizes
about never answering the phone and hearing the tragic news.

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