I couldn’t help her when she was crying on the stairway of an academic hall,
her tears trailing down her face into her dark red scarf. I couldn’t help her
when she tried to wipe her face, knocking her glasses off onto the floor.
I couldn’t help her when she bent down to pick up those blue rimmed frames off the old,
burgundy carpet and all the pages from her once full,
4-inch lime green binder fell out and scattered across the floor. I couldn’t help her when she dropped her bag,
and her now empty binder, onto the floor while trying to pick up the copious pages scattered with
black ink that was now covering the stairway of the academic hall.
I couldn’t help her
when I saw her chest compress and she let out a sigh like
a white flag waving
but being ignored
on the battlefield of a war that no one asked for.
I couldn’t help her when she tried shoving the pages, her memories, her binder, her sorrow, into her bag.
I couldn’t help her when she got up, dusted herself off,
wiped away her tears,
and stood up straight only to have a pencil
through that bag, tearing an ungodly hole in that bag.
I couldn’t help her when those same pages,
those same memories,
that same binder, that same sorrow came tumbling out again.
I couldn’t help her when her planner, her religion, her pencils,
her homework, her cell phone, her innocence, the ignored appointment card that she got from the university counseling center fell out of her bag too. I watched her keep trying
all those things back into that bag, a bag with a huge
and when all that remained in that bag was her
shame -- I couldn’t help her.
I couldn’t help her in the struggle to just get up those stairs. I couldn’t help her when
she transformed into a mirror.
I couldn’t help her when she became my reflection.
I couldn’t help her because I cannot give her back
the intangible thing that was stolen frompeople like her. people like me.