Don’t tell me your story;
it’s written in shadows
gripping your face, and
the way you twist the trash
bag of everything you
own around your wrist.
15-years-old, but I see
just a boy, shivering in
short sleeves. They took
your sweatshirt away
when you tried to hang yourself
with it, before you flung
yourself out a second story
window. he’s okay, they said,
but he’s not okay. I see his face.
I know broken, and he looks
down at the floor. I have
the file that says no one
wants to claim him, they’ve
all given up. He’s the state’s
child now, and the state can’t
hold your hand. The file knows
secrets he tries to keep, about
abuse and neglect that led him here.
He glances up, and I catch his eye –
yes, I see you. I smile, a little, you’re
safe for tonight. I sit down and he breathes
this day he needs to leave behind.
I know…but there is paperwork to be
done. We need history, diagnosis, all
the information required. This boy,
my patient, is tired in so many ways.
It’s past midnight before he’s processed
and admitted. He’s so weary, sleep is
welcome. But as I walk away, I wonder
if he thought – no one asked me why.


Two Times across the Tappan Zee Bridge



The first time was at dusk.  The Hudson River stretched

like an invitation in the gentlest glow, both banks’

forest green arms holding me, as I rose with the bridge.

And at the top, nightfall’s vision sang, and I held,

floated there, watching the city catch the river.

Her skyscrapers gathered and huddled and whispered

of the night to come, and began to switch on spots

of bright into the fading light.  And beside, tiny, immense

Liberty stood, knowing the city and flowing the river,

and lifted us all across the bridge.


When I returned, it was morning.  The light was harsher,

less forgiving.  The climb to the top of the bridge seemed

steeper, somehow, for us all.  And I saw signs, along

the railings, read them.  “Don’t give up. There is hope.

Call the hotline.”  Street signs. Bridge signs. Signs.

At the top: “Do not jump.”  On this, the North side, only

the river, the fall.  And the ghosts that had put all the signs

on the bridge.  I could still see them jumping.  And my car

would not float but wanted to stop and fling its doors

open for me.  But the sign said, “Do not jump.”




Dear Amanda Todd

Dear Amanda Todd,

I saw the video you posted

about bullying, and mistakes

you made, and pain you were in.

You were only 15, holding up

hand-written signs instead of speaking,

silenced already. You were reaching out

for anyone to help you, the raw hurt

so alive it crawled off the screen

and into me, leaving me with a heaviness

that didn’t lessen. I decided to write you,

to tell you that 15 doesn’t last, that there

is another life ahead where you can be

anybody you want, if you just hang on.

Talk to me, Amanda Todd, but don’t give up.

I can help you. I went back to the computer

to find your email – looked you up – and saw

“Amanda Todd commits suicide after being

tormented” and my breath is knocked away,

because I didn’t get to you. Nobody did.

And I am so sorry. We all let you down.

Frozen there, I see I have a message.

It’s from my own 14-year-old daughter, and it

says, “I don’t want to be alive anymore.”

Panic grips me. How do you save 14?

Maybe you would know, Amanda Todd,

maybe you could tell me.

But you are gone.



started to write

good bye

letter this morning, but then

i remembered

i had an appointment to convince you

that i’m ok

that i’m not a danger to myself

i can’t cancel

or you might worry that there’s something wrong

so i put myself together

picking up all of the pieces from the floor

and i’m here

before i left,  i checked – clean clothes, clean hair, clean teeth

i know what you look for


but as i’m telling you i’m ok i start to notice cracks in my normal

my socks don’t match, my nail polish is peeling, scratches all over my arms

i am not convincing


but you let me go when i assure you i will return in one week

i leave

relieved and scared, normal enough to return

to finish