My mother tells me quickly not rushed but in one breath.
Your brother's wheelchair rolled down the driveway. He fell.
His choice of curse words for this circumstance was a very quiet
oh shit. With force, she measures the details, telling me of the stitches
first, then they gave him Fentanol, he's not eating--she's in familiar
territory now--he tells me, mommy it hurts. I'm keeping him out of school
for a few days. Our conversation turns to standard fare; financial advice,
lamentations about weight. The quiver having passed through us for now,
even the phone line's static has subsided. The boy will be fine in time.
And the image loops in my head. I see the curved black tongue of the driveway,
its mouth opening to the residential street; its eagerness to spill my brother
into some red Taurus' unsuspecting bumper. I can imagine fear that makes
a raucous thirteen year-old boy whisper oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. I can see
how his rough hands must have fumbled for the brakes. And the image loops
in my head. I can see my brother held captive by the safety belts. I can see
the chair hurtling down the driveway's bumpy hill, as if it wanted to see how
the neighbor's grass grows, where wheelchairs cannot travel, as if it wanted
my brother to see what it felt like to be free.
"Free" from "Haint" Copyright 2016 by Teri Ellen Cross Davis. Reprinted by permission of Gival Press.
Teri Ellen Cross Davis’ first collection, Haint, was awarded the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is a Cave Canem fellow and member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. Whenever possible she assists her mother with the care of her younger brother, Tyler Parker, who suffered a seizure shortly after birth and was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. She coordinates the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Her website is www.poetsandparents.com.