To the Boy Who Hid at WalMart

If you hadn’t left
that trail of trash,
you might have lasted longer,
remained anonymous
among the rabble,
among the racketing sounds
of carts and schoolchildren
and their mothers who,
if they could,
ask you why — why did you…?

If I could slip
in there with you,
there in your careful cave,
staring through the cracks
among the baby stroller cartons
and piles of toilet paper,
safe where the air is still,
I could bring you help
from the outside,
some gift for your future,
perhaps a Leonard Cohen song
that says, “Love is the only
engine of survival,”
or some old book
by Ray Bradbury
that smells like ancient Egypt
and tells tales of your summer
when a steam engine arrives
from an impossible universe,
whistle wailing,
beckoning you aboard.

Don Cadwallader

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