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Out Back, Behind the Hospital

Steve Cushman


We shared cigarettes and jokes
talked about anything except
what we’d seen, the baby we’d X-rayed,
his bruises, his broken arm,
the way he’d opened his mouth to cry
but no sound came, his tears, his eyes wide
but still he didn’t make a sound.
At two months old, he’d already learned
the importance of silence, so out back
behind the hospital, Fred and I talked
about the Super Bowl, where we’d
like to go skiing, our plans for the weekend,
anything but what we’d seen yet had no words for.