Equivalent Exchange

Rachel S

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You’re shaking glass chips out your hair, Dialing 9-1-1 with numb fingers that don’t seem to obey you. The person seems so still–too still. You don’t know if they’re breathing or not. How do you check for a pulse again? You’ve seen it in movies But it’s a skill you never thought you’d actually need. The headlights of your car are blinding, A spotlight on what you’ve done As it illuminates you and the stranger. Their breath is fogging their broken glasses– They’re still alive and you brief a sigh of relief. Maybe if you didn’t have the vocal gymnastics Of your favorite artist turned up full volume You wouldn’t have missed the person shout That they were right in front of you. Maybe if you hadn’t glanced down To rapidly tap out an “LOL” to The picture your friend just sent you. Maybe if you had been paying attention And not glancing down to rifle in your To-Go bag, You wouldn’t be here in the cold, Shivering uncontrollably. You knew that you shouldn’t have done those things But you didn’t care. You were invincible, Nothing ever happened to you before. The worth of seconds, The way life can branch out into Plausible events, Had lost its weight and meaning. Until now. You wish you had remembered. You wish you had remembered that a song, A snack, A text, A distraction Is not worth a life.