and then there was the boy with bruises on his legs, and a head that just didn’t look right, and a mother holding him, standing in front of a dark home at three in the morning, cold wind blowing trash from the gutter, swirling around them when we arrive, lights flashing, lighting the outside of the house while the inside remains as black as the heart of the man inside
her son, wrapped in a dirty blanket that covered the smell of dirty diapers until I brought them inside my little world, the tiny moving enclosure where so much happens. I know that he is inside, drunk most likely, sleeping soundly in the bed that he finally has all to himself
where to begin, he was unconscious she says, after he fell from her bed, hit his head, didn’t cry, just layed there, hoping nobody would notice I imagine, and make his head even more odd, maybe this time hitting him hard enough to keep him quiet for good
The blanket comes off, and there are burns there, curling iron burns, and though they are old I can smell the tender flesh that sizzled when it touched him, and I wonder; did he cry then? Or did he stifle those cies so they wouldn’t burn him again?
She sits across from us as I take care of her baby, stone faced, her skin blotched, eyes swollen, hair colored too many times, sixteen years old, her year old baby lying on a stretcher, and not in a crib, he’s staring at a dripping IV line, and not one of those whimsical mobiles that would make music if he reached up and touched it, and make him laugh
If he had one.
He’s not responding, not to my words, not to my movements, not to my touch. He’s not laughing, or crying, or doing much of anything but existing the only way he knows how. Little babies learn a lot in their first year of life. Little Jeffery has learned how not to cry. Or laugh. Or do much of anything, but breathe