Amber Alert, 1982 (poem)

The day she vanished,

her mom snapped a Polaroid

of her poised, straight-backed

 

 

and snaggle-toothed.  Five

minutes before the bus comes,

she sprints past the poles

 

 

of the carport where

she inched up tomboyishly,

past the lawn where touch

 

 

football got too physical.

past the sidewalk where ropes

made Keds jump doubles.

 

 

She skids on gravel

in a flurry of plaid pleats.

The metal underside

 

 

of a VW bug

overshadows the clicking

of her patent heels.

 

 

Unscathed by the car

but tendon-torn by the pavement,

she limps, one-legged.

 

 

Hydrogen peroxide

bubbles up as her mom pours it

inside the gaping wound.

 

 

She mummifies it

in gauze and guns the Chevy

in route to K-mart.

 

 

Her mom wheels the cart

through the garden center.

She left her behind,

 

 

half-prostrate.  Her white

friend and her parents park

beside her.  She waves,

 

 

cranking the window

open with the swiveled knob.  Her

pencil-lead sharp elbow

 

 

pinholes the cushioned door

that has often mangled her

double joints in its hinges.

 

 

She calls out to her.

The threesome pivots in unison,

towards her direction.

 

 

And then it happens:

 

 

A hand, then an arm,

her torso, spirals into

particles, then scatters.

 

 

The threesome swivels

forward and marches inside

where MJ invites them

 

 

to pop-lock, separate but equal.

Her mom weeps in wonder,

the gauze in her tips.

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