There were toiletries, hair curlers, socks balled into pairs,
Around and around it went unclaimed
In the dimly lit ground floor of O’Hare.
I stood there in the terminal holding my bag
Waiting for someone to come
And frantically shove everything back inside.
I imagined an sheepish traveler in the shadows
Impatiently waiting for me to go away
So she could retrieve her things in peace.
The boy darted out between parallel parked cars
In front of his south side home
Chasing a ball or a squirrel
Or maybe chasing nothing at all,
Just running, running aimless like a child.
The van caught him flush and sent him flying
A hundred feet down the street in broad daylight.
They brought him in to the trauma bay
Comatose, cold and pale, with a wobbly tracing
Which quickly went flat.
We split open his chest and his left lung
Spilled out of his empty chest like fileted pink salmon.
Last gasp, we explored his bulging little belly
Hoping to find something to fix or stanch
But the entrails sprung out in a mass
Of diaphanous deep sea anemones.
There was no blood and we never got a pulse
So the chief surgeon declared him dead
Right then and there, just like that
And then stuffed everything back inside
And whip-stitched his open gashes in silence.
I stood to the side and waited for the void
To be filled with some kind of noise---
Wailing sirens as the ER doors opened and closed,
The searing lamentations of a mother, a father,
Waiting down the hall for the worst news of their lives
Or least the beeping of monitors, the whirring of printers or faxes
But no sounds came.
The parents hadn't arrived yet.
Everything had been turned off.
There was just the rhythmic ratcheting of the needle driver
As the boy was terminally closed.
Once you’re exposed
There’s little incentive
To cover yourself back up.
You feel it’s too late;
Took everything you had to hold it all in.
All those lonely years,
Layer upon layer of protective gear,
All for naught.
That part takes love
Which isn’t something
Anyone can control;
You need help.
The next time the suitcase
Came round unclaimed
I stepped forward and covered it
With an old white tee shirt I’d pried from my bag.
No one deserves to go round and round
Flayed open, naked and raw and true
For all the world to see.