Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Suicide at 13

by William Miller

He went missing for five days.

The police, their rescue dogs,
walked the creek where
he was last seen,
then turned the dogs loose

in a pine forest. We heard
about it on the radio,
talked about the boy’s parents,
how helpless they must feel.

Then my scout master called,
said the police needed us,
as many troops as possible
to search those woods

for a shoe, a torn t-shirt,
or the boy himself
somehow still alive.

And we walked all day,
our single file breaking
into small groups,
kicking pine straw,
bending limbs.

And I wondered if he
had been kidnapped
or run away from something
awful at home…

My mother said my dad
had a secret girlfriend,
that he wanted a divorce
and a new wife soon.

That made me want
to run away, hide in
a deep cave and never
come out, hide forever…

Someone yelled, cried out,
then we all saw him
slumped in pine roots,
a knife deep in his stomach.

Both hands were tight
on the black grip,
his shirt dark with blood.
The scout master said

something about not
touching anything,
then stepped slowly
back from the tree.

But we didn’t move,
unable to believe he was
our age or near, and there
were reasons in this world

to run away from home,
kill yourself with a knife,
in a thick, pine forest,
that hope died too.