His spine was cracked upon impact.
It was just one of those things
that happen, an accident. It was
no one’s fault; there is no one
to shoulder the blame. He was broken
in a thousand different ways.

I looked for the book he gave me;
the only thing he ever gave me,
hungry for a signature scrawled on
the first page. The adolescent hand
writing teenage boys scrawl when they
are trying to show effort. His j’s
looked like g’s in fast black ink.

The book was a strange fantasy I
would have never read on my own.
Now it was the only part of him I had.
I kept my head up as long as I could,
let the kids watch a movie so we wouldn’t
have to talk about it. I didn’t
want to talk about it.

It has been fifteen years since we
raced the halls together. A good kid
who smiled too much. A chip of broken tile
and notes passed by girls. He never should
have been a name smeared to highway.
Never should have been anything more than
a face in the crowd, a fond memory.

Now he sits in the pit of my stomach
and despite my need to be the strong one,
I can’t control help but to imagine the
crack of skeleton, the shattering of
front tooth. I can’t trade this image
for a kinder memory. It haunts me.
It haunts me still.