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How It Was

If I’d flung her through the window that night,
no one would have known I’d done it. For how many
windows had she smashed by now? How many walls
had she cratered? We lived in an asteroid storm.

(A feeble joke we told our friends: that we
could gauge our daughter’s growth by the height
of the holes.) I’d pinned her down—embrace turned
tourniquet–on our bare, midnight mattress. But

I could have let her go, and when she charged,
I could have shoved her hard against the one
broad pane not yet replaced with plexiglas.
Her only chaperon: the air. Only sidewalk,

her release. But if the window didn’t break?
Or didn’t break enough, and left her equipoised,
and only bleeding? We thought her unassailable,
thought shards of glass, like all of us, were barred

from ingress. (Was her very skin oblivious?)
However founded in calamity, she seemed
unscathable. I seemed to think she might
cavort through fire unburned, clash with a car

without breaking a bone, drink poison and feel
merely sated. Not that I had ever thought
of burning her, breaking her bones, feeding her
poison. Understand, if you possibly can,

that I ached to be the one who leapt
into the fire, snatched her from the line
of traffic, forced the ipecac down. It flew
at me just once (no–twice)—this fierce retort:

throw her out the window. This urge—more howl
than wish–I let it go. For I knew windows well
by now. They’re not like in the movies. She would fall
halfway through and dangle. Is there a heart

that wouldn’t vaporize at once, rather than
abet that second push? …And so she’d end up hurt,
not dead. (Beyond my scope, this lone barbarity:
to make her feel worse than she already did.)

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