Dog and an Empty Sled
You weren't more than five or six when the words
on a monument to Sarah Pryor broke something
inside you. When I found you, face dirt-stained,
tear-streaked, tried to hold you to my panicked heart,
you kicked and punched, howling like her dog must have
when she never came home again. As if it were my fault,
my lack that didn't keep this nine year old,
this stranger's daughter taken eight years before
you were even born, my fault I could not keep her safe.
All the clues, the hints you dropped too subtle
until they weren't: a whole bottle, empty of everything
but pain is as obvious as it gets. They have us sit
in a separate waiting room while well educated,
well meaning strangers in deliberately casual attire
ask you the same questions over and over again.
They won't know how to listen to the hitch
in your voice or how to read the shadows that play
over your eyes the way I can, but the only truth that matters
to them is the truth you are willing to tell yourself.
Gentle boy, you were stolen away by a danger
I don't know how to fight. And now, I am pushing
through the underbrush, calling out your name
in the darkness until my throat bleeds.
--LJ Cohen, April 28, 2013
This is a link to a photo of the monument to Sarah Pryor. It was created by the local artist, Nancy Schon, of Make way for Ducklings fame.