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.”