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stepfather

i found him in the laundry room,
washer and dryer silent, towels
wet with blood.

he was breathing barely.

my mother was over him, begging
him not to die, not seeing me;
statue and shadow in the doorway

looking on.

i descended the stairs and
knelt on the crimson cement,
touching ice to his forehead.

he murmured and his eyelids fell.

we held rags to the wound
and i stayed silent, letting her
empty eyes have their grief.

it was all i could do.

bloodied and weeping, she
followed like a child when the
stretcher came to lift him away.

the sirens faded and so did he.

 

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