If Only, by Hannah E. Hayes

 It’s just me here in our room,

A single bed, instead of a bunk,

His Spiderman pictures gone,

Only Metallica to cover the walls.

If only he was still here with me . . .

When I sleep,

I hear his loud, raspy voice in my ears,

Telling me of math tests or dogs,

Video games or scary cartoons:

His dreams to rule the world.

If only his short life wouldn’t have stopped . . .

It was cold outside.

Teachers said goodbye

And we ran for freedom.

Under the cover of green pine trees,

 And over the long, railroad tracks,

We raced each other on.

If only he had run more slowly . . .

He was in front of me,

And slipped over the tracks.

I ran to catch up,

And then gave him my hand;

He gripped it tightly, but his foot didn’t budge.

If only he had worn Velcro . . .

His brown shoelaces would not

Have gotten stuck

Under the jail of frozen, metal bars.

I tried to lift him up,

Pull his body to safety, like heroes on TV.

And I would have,

If only the train had not come . . .

He screamed like a baby,

I yelled and kicked at his shoe:


It came closer and was bigger:

A monster screeching in rage.

If only that monster had not killed my brother . . .

We would be here together,

In this room,

Laughing, talking, playing video games,

Drinking mountain dew,

Crunching on potato chips,

And guilt wouldn’t be slicing holes in my heart.

If only . . .

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