David Armand

My son was riding his bike
in the street yesterday
when he turned too sharp
fell down
and knocked out two of his teeth
against the cracked asphalt.

The blood was something to behold
coming out through his fingers
like that
as he ran toward me, crying
stumbling across the yard
in his damp and muddy socks.

We put him in the car and drove
to the Emergency Room
but after almost three hours
without seeing a doctor
we left.
            It was getting too late.

My son was feeling better by then
though his lip was swollen
and his chin and hands were scraped up
as though someone had taken
a stub of sandpaper to them.

His white school shirt
had turned pink at the collar
where the blood and spit
had leaked from the throbbing sockets
in his gums
where his beautiful white teeth had been
but now were gone
lying somewhere by the ditch
beside our driveway.

That night as I tried to sleep
I fell into a dream
in which I was building a house.
It reached up to the sky
like a cathedral, that house,
but when I stepped back
to see the work I’d done
it all started to come down
raining split soffits and bricks
all the dust and splinters now a thick cloud
bubbling up on the ground
around my feet.

My kids were there
and we were running now:
my daughter in my arms
crying something about her shoes—
that everything we had was gone.

And then I woke up.

I looked over at my two beautiful children
who were sleeping quietly
and I pulled the blanket over their legs
tried to fall back asleep myself.
But it was useless.
So I got out of bed.

It was still dark while I made the coffee
then sat on the sofa and pet the dog
watching the news on mute
so as not to wake anyone up.

Rain all day, it showed,
the splotches on the radar
green and yellow and even red
in spots, moving across Louisiana
like someone dragging a sheet
over a field for a picnic.

This was fine by me:
I was taking off work anyway.
I needed to be home for a while.

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