Britt Anderson and Amy Souza


Amy Souza

Inspiration Piece


Escape to the Woods
Britt Anderson



Phone rings
An accident
Thank goodness the ambulance came so fast
He wasn’t breathing

Mom cries
Complicated emotions
He wasn’t perfect but
Now he is broken, obviously & irreparably

Drive down Highway 5
Past the windmills, over the Grapevine
Long flat stretch, fields of crops and cattle
Camp Pendleton, almost there

Gran is stunned, adrift
Go to the VA hospital to see the damage firsthand
GranDad lies in a hospital bed
He is so still, but his eyes are pleading

He is scared, his mouth opens and closes like a fish
The nurse is cleaning the tracheotomy site
GranDad can’t breathe, but the nurse takes his time
Panic takes hold, he begs for air

GranDad fell
But the impact spreads like ripples across a pond
Mom is shaken, disbelieving
She resists this new reality

“We’re going camping”, she declares
Pack up the Nissan pickup with the blue shag rug in the bed and the cap on top
Every weekend for months
Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Mount Shasta

Potatoes baked on a campfire
Lake water so cold it steals my breath
The smell of charcoal
Camp trails lined with ferns, the spores on their undersides vaguely sexual

Fun at first, but the breaking point arrives
I throw myself to the ground and cry, desperate for a pack of M & Ms
GranDad is still broken
The woods are only a temporary escape

I toast his English muffins and mix his chocolate milk
He will never move, not even take a breath on his own, again
His eyes beseeching, like a deer surprised by hikers
How did this situation come to pass?

Twelve birthdays and anniversaries in a hospital bed
GradDad’s eyes change, he sees beyond this reality
His body still and gnarled like a tree trunk
Beauty and tragedy, always intertwined


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