When they stood there
Two so close
Staring at the third one,
The outcast one
I learned that I should have acted sooner,
This had been brewing all morning.
When the four of us stood in the hallway
That empty hallway
And it was silent
And their was no one
How could there be no one in the normally crowded hallway?
I learned that there are all sorts of silence
All manner of lonliness
When the fight started
When the two of them fell upon the third
When that third started to go down
When their was cursing, the grunts, the thuds
Filled up my world
I learned that there are moments that spread upward
Eternity is not always a good thing.
When I dropped my Styrofoam coffee cup
And lept in between the boys
And the blows landed on me
And I cried out and pushed them away from each other
I learned that there are some decisions we make
And some decisions that make us.
When the scuffle finally drew an audience
And when the audience finally drew those who would intervene
And when those who would intervene
Finally did intervene
I learned that sometimes pain sends out a scouting party
I actually thought I’d make it the rest of that day.
When the adrenaline
Sweat itself out my pours
When the dust settled and it was just me
Writing an incident report
I learned that pain
Pain is a beast
When the pain wormed into my spine
It stretched something across my lower back
Muscles betrayed and me squeezed,
They’d all told me to go.
I learned that sometimes the people
Around us know more about our hurts than we do
When the next three weeks
Were this whirr of appointments
Pain, pain, and pain
I learned that sometimes things just get so big
I never would have thought it would get so big.
When the right kind of pills
At the right time
Punched a whole in my cloud
But they started to run out
And the doctors offered no more, nonchalant
I learned that there is something terrible in indifference
And addiction is hell.
When I made it back in
And those kids were still there
And I still had to teach them
And I limped and I gasped, often
If it was damp.
I learned about injustice,
When that wound
Keeps me from wrestling my kids
Or hiking in God’s favorite place
Or laughing outloud
I learned that it’s best
Not to know
If I’d do it all again.