Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't Panic

It was already over by the time I got to the intersection.
But he was just beginning to cry.
There were two cars up on the curb,

and the man and the woman paced in circles.
“That’ll catch that bastard on camera,” the gas station attendant tells me.
I nod.

The man’s face contorts. He takes his phone away from his ear
and holds it at his stomach as if he has been shot. Or as if he can’t bear
to hear the other tiny voice.

It seems to be taking me forever to get across the street.
She dabs at her head with a cloth.
I can see the blood.

“It’s alright,” he tells her. “Don’t get upset. Don’t panic.”
and then he doubles over again. He lets out a whimper and
says “Hello?” into the phone as if he just answered it.

She sits on the curb, watching him, dabbing the blood from her head
in little gentle pecks, the way you would clean a baby.
She sighs.

He sits next to her. His is huge, a great big huge man,
with spotty facial hair and a white baseball hat.
She seems even smaller next to him.
Like a bird twitching next to a walrus.

He cries full on now. I wish that I weren’t here.
The men at the dealership next door wear suits and shake hands.
They laugh too loud as if this side of the street can’t hear them.

The woman turns her pale face up, the blood slides quickly down her forehead,
to her nose, like a river searching for the ocean.
Her eyes are blank, her lips tight as she works to keep herself in.
She watches the first drops of rain come down.
When they land, I tell myself she smiled, but I know I am lying.

I listen for the siren wail
but don’t hear it.
Not even 10 blocks later.
Not even as I fumble with my key at the door, desperate to get inside.

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