Thu, 05/15/2014 - 11:39 -- hbansen



You will know how this ends.

You will have seen this future calling from miles away.

You must prepare your hands for callous,

ready your arms for the weight of his body against yours.

This is a píeta you will dream of

when everything else is extinguished.


You will have seen the ending the first time

a teacher sent a note home from school,

telling you that your 5 year old son is quieter than the rest,

needs to try harder.

You will remember watching him playing on the floor

with his brother,


You will blow it off,

ignore the note from the teacher,

crumple it tightly inside of your fist.


You will wish, years later,

that you could have held him that tightly.  

The ending will start to appear to you in dreams,

right after you leave your husband for the first time.

You will smell the octane,

the coldness in the air.

You will tell yourself

that they’re only dreams.


The morning that it happens,

you will check his bed to see if it’s warm,

and when it isn’t,

you will call your sister.  You will contact the police.

There’s a protocol for all of this.

And that will feel comforting.


You will give your report to the police,

It will sound tragic

and evasive

and believeable.

You will limp out of yourself

and watch the rest from the outside.


You will spend every night with a bottle of wine

and his baby pictures.

You will hunt those photos for the smell of the gas,

for the echo of that hollow night,

for some sign that it was coming.


The dream will go like this.

You will wake on the bridge

with cars hurdling into the night.

You will take in the smell,

the thickness of the dark,

and then you will see him
a beacon on the ledge.

You will watch him fall,

night after night.

You will find yourself

at the base of the bridge,

wading in the rushing tide.

It’s too soon for ice, but it is so cold.

You will carry your son from the river,

notice the lightness

of his waterlogged body.

You will search his fingers for a pulse

in spite of yourself.

You will pray for the morning to murder the night,

for the suicide of the stars

to ease you awake.

and in the morning, they will find you,

a píeta




I wrote this poem almost 4 years after my best friend killed himself.  I had always wondered how it felt for his mom, thinking back on what had happened, and so I wrote this poem.  Over the last 4 years, I have tried so hard to write something about it, but never was able to until I wrote this.

I got 3rd place in my university's annual poetry slam using this poem.  It was the first and only time I have performed it, and it really changed how the poem felt to me.  I feel like seeing it performed is the best way to get the feeling of it, but it also has feeling when read on the page.

This poem is in loving memory of Austin Tyler Roberts.

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