It’s not that I think I could have saved you;
I’m not that much of a fool, or an
Optimist. Saving you was up to you, and
you fought really hard, but failed.
Or maybe death was your final success, in
freeing yourself of all the chains
binding you, holding you down, holding you back.
My failure isn’t not saving your twenty-five year old self
My failure happened ten years before, when you were
too young to know how wrong things could go;
when you depended upon me to make the right choices,
to know the right things, to
set the horror right. I tried. I was the one who was supposed to know
everything. And I didn’t.
If I could go back in time (I’ve thought of this a lot. Fool that I am)
I’d go back to that day, ten years prior, when I got to the school
and found you on the ground (the irony doesn’t escape me)
One leg a full half-foot shorter than the other. I leaned over you,
I smiled and stroked your face. “It’s going to be fine, sweetheart.”
The ambulance was on its way. It was a dislocation,
so much better than a break, right?
But it wasn’t, and it wasn’t. It was so much worse.
Too many hours lost. Too much damage done. Two percent chance of saving
that leg. That damned leg.
This what I’d change–I’d tell them to take it off.
What they left caused it all. I’m ninety-eight percent convinced.
It would have been done. Over. And only the rebuilding.
A new life you would have made without the constant drag
of all that pain,
that became pain-killers that didn’t work,
that fed all the sorrow of losing who you’d been,
that became so much anxiety,
that became a speeding train always barreling down,
that became “please someone save me!” That became
This is what I’d change, if I could. But I can’t. Maybe,
in some postulated, parallel reality, I told them,
“Take the leg.” Not in this reality.
I lost you then, and didn’t even know, I, who was supposed to know