Friday, January 13, 2023

The Screams


It’s the screams actually.

  Howls that come from 

  the very depths of the soul

  wails that physically hurt bystanders

  with crushing, disbelieving pain.

Such visceral screams are

  most often followed by

  desperate pleas for a different outcome.

  “No, no, no, no, no …”

  God-awful ripples slamming into strangers.

There is nothing for it

  but to stay with them.  To just stay

  and make sure they don’t

  hurt themselves as they thrash.

  Silent witnesses to bone deep wounds.

The mother of the 24 year old

  who overdosed despite his assurances

  to her that he didn’t need help.

  She knew what the doctor would say

  but begged for different words.

The mother of the 4 year old

  who succumbed to some illness

  despite parents who tried everything

  Words in an alien tongue - they

  slice deep tracks that will never heal completely.

The father of the 7 year old

  who died from the flu.

  He punches his fist through the drywall

  knuckles bleeding, tears flowing, 

  following the wall to the ground, head in hands.

The daughter of the middle-aged man

  whose heart stopped, just stopped.

  She continues to encourage her papa

  to keep fighting even as compressions

  are ended and the time of death called.

It’s these awful, fucking screams

  that I hear in the night, in my dreams, in daylight

  haunting sounds of pain so great

  that they reverberate through the air

  waves of hurt that slap.

Ear plugs do not help deafen

  a sound that now inhabits

  my memories and every cell in my body.

  Secondary trauma that accumulates

  and burrows deeper within me.

It’s the screams that loop and replay.

  Haunting notes that I must

  honor and release in order to survive.

  Let the divine take care of what

  I can no longer hold.  


And so I scream and wail

  and cry “no, no, no, no. . .”

  and I punch the air instead of a wall

  and collapse and beg for different sounds.

  “please make it stop.”

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