When

When your eight year-old
Tells you
What he wants
To be buried
Because he’s so angry
At you
Because you
Took something
Away from him
When he was six
And he wants
To kill himself
Because of it
And he wants
To get a knife
And stab his heart
What do you say?

When he says
He’s been sad
Every day
Sad
Because that thing
Is gone
Sad on roller coasters
Sad at the zoo
Sad laughing
Sad smiling
Sad
What do you say?

When he says
He hated
The replacement
He later got
At Christmas
And didn’t tell you
He hated it
Because he didn’t
Want to hurt
Your feelings
What do you say?

When he cries
The cry of loss
Unrecoverable loss
Bone rattling loss
And the tears
Will not stop
And the cries
Of anguish
Echo in the void
And you know
You know
Where he’s at
Because you
You’ve been there too
And he’s only eight
Only eight
And you see
Before your eyes
This piece
Of your child
Tear away
And you can’t
Can’t
Stop it
And you know
He’s there alone
When you’re right there
What do you say?

When he says
He hates you
And hates his life
And wants to die
And wants you to die
And his life is shit
And you’re a son of a bitch
And a fucker
And an asshole
And he wants to die
Please let me die daddy
I hate my life
Please let me die
You fucker
What do you say?

When he wants
That thing
And you’re the hate
Because it’s gone
Because you took it
You fucker
What do you say?

When you know
It’s his brain
And he’s tired
And the new meds
Might be talking
He doesn’t mean it
It’s not him
What do you say?

When he runs
For the knives
And knees you
In the head
Hard
Hard, to make you cry
And he wants to die
Wants to die
And his brother
Cries
Terrified
What do you say?

When you think
You did the right thing
The best you could
All you could
Right then
Right now
And one day
He may understand
But not tonight
Not now
You fucker
You asshole
You son of a bitch
You mothefucker
You shit
You bastard
Fuck you
Leave me alone
I want to die
Let me die
Go the fuck away
Go the fuck away
Let me die
Let me die
What do you say?

When he finally drops
Exhausted
Mumbling
Still obsessed
And asking
Asking asking
Asking for it back
And you shush him
And you kiss him
Goodnight
On the knit forehead
You used to nuzzle
When he was baby small
And tell him
You love him
And he whispers back
With a smile
I love you too
What do you say?

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8 responses to “When

  1. I just got your goodbye letter at work – so I came here to read some of your new posts. I haven’t visited in a while. This one was new to me. God, I’ve been there… so many times I’ve been there. There are no words. Just crawl in with them and maybe think to myself that this is why they are so beautiful when they are asleep. Thank you for saying what I couldn’t.

  2. Barbara (Winter) Selden

    Been there, Chris. Thinkning of you.

  3. pinklightsabre

    You say what you must. Thanks for sharing Chris.

  4. Powerful stuff.
    I have two ADHD children (16 and 14) and after reading your poem I have one word that springs to mind and that is persevere.

  5. I say to his dad I hear you and I have nothing that doesn’t seem hollow to say, but I’m sorry and I hear you.

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