Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Driving a white county car
to weigh a baby,
to lend an ear to a mother three days old,
the nurse is stopped by a motorcade—
engines rumbling, lights sparkling
to the horizon of Pac Highway
like an angry Christmas tree.
Near the cemetery, men and women
in stiff jackets, green and gold,
line the sidewalk,
faces tightened, hiding tears.
White gloves rise up in the air.
The coffin comes draped in a flag.

The young mother’s aunties and her own mother
live across four countries’ borders.
Her neighbors come and go, 747’s
leaping from the tarmac.
Her husband is her only one
and he is always working.
But the baby’s fine. Eyes are white,
diapers wet, her lungs are strong.
The nurse tells secrets of the first milk,
checks her watch
and promises to return.

In the breakroom, she reads headlines
skipped since Sunday
about the lawyer who came home to White Center
to become a cop,
beloved by all accounts.
Even addicts and delinquents
who sat handcuffed in his backseat
cry outside the precinct. She reads headlines
about the man who shot him.
They say in the afternoon
he made another man lie down naked in the street
and shot him too.
Before dawn, he aimed a bullet at himself.

She shakes her head and wonders.
What makes a man thirst for blood,
for others’ and his own?

What happened to his mother?
And to her mother?
And to hers?

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