Wooden Arrows

You may not realize it
as you stand so casually
one hand in your pocket
carelessly dropping words from your lips
loosing them like a thousand wooden arrows
aimed at the candy-apple Rokr
held in your perfectly manicured hands.

You may not realize it
but those carelessly loosed arrows
fly in every direction
up, down, north, south
leeward, windward
toward the church
or back toward the slides
and the swings swaying in the chill November breeze.

You may not realize it
but your words pierce me
cut deep into my flesh
flint heads on wooden arrows
tearing through flimsy fabric
chewing up sinew and gnawing at bone
coming to rest against my heart
where the barbèd flint head
makes the barest scratch
so the blood of my breast seeps,
seeps with each word
that falls carelessly
from your painted lips.

You will never know
which words wounded me
and which slew the gentleman in front of me,
that sweet man with the walker
and the slightly lopsided glasses.
You will never know
which words flew from your mouth
to pierce the naval officer across the hall
the one bouncing his infant daughter
who’d just spit up on her mother.

You will never know
which words took flight at my daughter
so that she grabbed my aching hand
and squeezed it tight, tighter
until we both squinched our eyes shut
so that we would not scream at you
to stop
loosing those wooden arrows
of hate
and anger
and fear.