Heart of a Poet

by Deborah Oster Pannell

He sneezed
Hit the wrong button
Didn't mean to kill him,
but he did
Held onto me then, crying
and could not stop
I feel so awful, he sobbed
He was asking for mercy
And I meant to say, "yes,
I will spare your life,"
but I hit the kill button
It was an accident
Honey, it's just a game
It's virtual, I mouthed
But the words
would not come
when I needed them most
It was all too real
to him,
the cruelty
He had seen it before,
in movies
in other games
in the eyes of bullies
at school
And now, he was one of them
My son is marked
by the tragedy of loss
which has only magnified
an already tender heart
He feels the pain of others
and the harshness of injustice
in a way far beyond his years
And I imagine the crown
of his innocence
slipping down
over his eyes,
falling to the ground
the quiet safety
of my arms
around his little body
He will play the game again
and create a new ending
to make it all right
I haven't the heart to tell him
The pain will continue