You Could Have Been Me

You Could Have Been Me Poem By Belle Waring

Just you walk out from that hospital air into the rasp edge of winter
when trees look fresh as a black lace hem
frayed in somebody’s backseat.

Just walk out of the hospital, where grief is stripped and intricate
as winter trees.
I was fresh out of the sonogram room where they tilted a sensor
over and over a place in my breast.

You could have been me there—
a jacklighted deer
hearkening.

Ultrasound, imperceptible to anyone but bats,
will pass through liquid and bounce off solid
as sonar reveals a torpedo.
As it sees a malignant mass.

Doctors are whispering.
One looks over: You mind us talking?
Talk, I said. Sing, if you feel like it.
I walked straight out of that hospital
the moment the just-set-sun was casting a pearl shell over the city.
A man asked for change.

I told him the truth. I was out of work.
God bless you, he said, come back tomorrow, I’ll have money.
My sonogram film now stood packed in with a thousand others.
When you rejoice, you forget the unspared ones.

You just watch that godlike blue between sunset and night,
blue laced with underlight curving around the shoulders of the earth
until it falls like a veil teased off—
and as a Chevy full of folks creaks down the way,
headlights swagging down the alley,
something shifts—inside me again is a perfectness.
No harm will come to us.

The street will not swallow us, the night not oppress us.
Something opens inside my chest—
a flower from a pellet in a glass of water, a toy
for a child so dumb with delight she’s forgotten the difference
between herself and the one to be thanked
and the thanks, the very thanks.

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