Authors: Kelly Bingham
A note to the reader
This book includes poetry, which looks best at smaller font sizes. We recommend that you adjust your font size so that the following phrase fits on a single line:
about the people we saw down in the parking lot.
I can still feel my right hand,
like a best friend;
Mom looks for a tissue
or the book
lying among my covers
and I reach for it,
then I remember
I cannot reach with that hand
a prickle crawls across my cheek,
and that right hand tries to
rise from the grave,
moved to scratch.
The fingers, palm,
wrist, and arm
that I remember
don’t know enough
the first time,
and the last time,
I wore my
Michael teased me.
“Why don’t you give that thing to someone who can fill it out?”
A driver’s license in his wallet,
so high on freedom,
he was more obnoxious than usual.
I threw the towels at him.
Mom hefted him the cooler.
We filled up the trunk,
Michael slid behind the wheel,
Mom pasted sunscreen around her ears.
The sun was so bright that day.
As we pulled out of the driveway,
I reached for the beach bag
and slipped my sketchbook inside.
Los Angeles Times
, June 22
A fifteen-year-old girl was attacked by a shark at Point Dume State Beach yesterday afternoon. The girl was swimming approximately four yards from shore in waters four to five feet deep when the shark attacked.
“I was just down the shore from her,” one witness said. “Everything was fine, then all of a sudden I heard people screaming. Everyone started running out of the water. It was crazy. I looked, and saw people pointing. I saw the girl trying to swim.”
Another witness described the scene: “I saw her out there, kind of going under, then back up again. There was all this blood. They got her out of there and laid her on the sand, and I thought she was dead, there was just so much blood coming out of her. Her arm was barely attached to her body. It was terrifying.”
The girl’s brother is credited with saving her life. After pulling her from the water, he used a string to tie off the injured limb and slow blood loss.
Frightened beachgoers watched as paramedics arrived. The girl was transported to UCLA hospital, where she is listed in critical condition. Doctors had to amputate her right arm due to injuries inflicted by the shark.
“She is lucky to be alive,” Dr. Andrew Kim, head of orthopedic surgery, reports. “She is in a coma due to blood loss. The next forty-eight hours are critical. We have no way of knowing yet if she sustained brain damage from the massive blood loss.”
Authorities closed down the beach and it remains closed today, but a spokesman said it will probably open again tomorrow. The Coast Guard has found no evidence of the shark in patrolling the area since yesterday.
I didn’t think
things could get much worse
when the doctors told me,
their voices penetrating
some faraway cloud
I’d been inhaling,
“Jane, we’ve had to amputate.
Your right arm, Jane.
Above the elbow.”
I didn’t think things could get worse.
But then I was in a coma for
the first ten days.
Michael gives it to me straight.
“Some person on the beach.
He was taping his kids and then . . .”
He stares at his palms.
“The guy is a bastard.”
from everyone else.
“They blurred out the really bad parts,”
Mom says, her eyes wet.
“I haven’t seen it. I hope I never do.
The news finally stopped playing it
about a week after you —
after it happened.”
The nurse says,
“Don’t watch it, if it comes up again.
Just try and put that day behind you.”
slide down into my ears.
in me so wild,
swallows my fear.
I hold on to Mom’s hand with my left one now.
Her hand is warm and soft.
I feel so hot, so thirsty, all the time.
She pours me water.
I think, constantly, about my art — my life.
Why did this happen? Why me?
I was supposed to be an artist.
Has there been a mistake? Can it be fixed?
How can I live without drawing?
What am I supposed to do now?
These are my questions,
running like hamsters on wheels,
but I ask,
“Who’s covering for you at school?”
Mom teaches English at USC.
“They found a substitute,” she says,
and squeezes my fingers. “Don’t worry about it.
Your grandparents are coming Friday;
they can help out when I go back.”
Our hands separate when the
phone rings. Rachel, my best friend,
checking in. All my other friends,
calling to see if they can come visit.
I can’t even talk to them.
I feel like words
might force my stomach to come up.
Mom takes over.
“If you could wait a few more days,
that would be best,” she tells
everyone who calls.
Mom goes for coffee
while my blood pressure is taken,
my temperature charted,