We sit in the ER and they ask the question
I see their eyes shift to me after they get their answer
And I make it clear
This was not something I condoned
I wasn't even home
No one's being accusing, though
That's just my guilt protesting, feeling like I should have known
Should have found a way to go back in time
And make her do as I told her
Some of the nurses and doctors have been understanding
It's not cool to wear a bike helmet when you're thirteen
We know, they say. We know it messes up your hair
But look at your face.
Your swollen and abraded face.
You're a beautiful girl
Do you want to stay beautiful? And alive?
Wear your helmet
You were lucky this time, they say.
And I know we are
Bruises, contusions, whiplash and a concussion
But nothing broken
No bleeding in her brain
No lifelong life-altering
And I still feel guilty