Inflation

It starts in your lungs.
Those two cages of breath
unwilling to unlock the door
for any entrance or escape
of air or comfort or ease.
So I sit on the bed beside you
plugging you in to a face mask
and tubes which coax open
those stubborn balloons
with the help of a vapor
squeezed from a vile.
Your friends next door
and across the street have
taken the bus to school
where they will learn about
numbers and our strange language
which has no word for the
kind of daily prolonged fear
that some mothers have
of their children dying
in hospital beds or outside
in the parking lot having
underestimated the speed
at which a small body might
deflate if the mother, say,
takes too long in the bathroom
or runs downstairs to refill her mug.
We are prisoners in different cells,
you and I.  Yours collapses
and mine inflates with every breath
you struggle to take.
This time it ends well
in a hospital bed where it only took
a few hours to correct the numbers
on the screen – those vital signs
that say it’s okay for you to go home
and take it easy until next time,
which we can bet will happen soon,
and then, if you are lucky enough
to grow up into a world
that has improved its
inadequate lexicon
to include a word for
the prolonged daily fear of mothers,
then you’ll understand
how relieved I’ll be when you call
in the middle of a future night, in tears,
and tell me it’s only your heart
that’s broken.

DeMaris Gaunt
12-6-14

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