How to Carry Someone Who is Unconscious – a poem

Why would you want to do that?

Is he lying in the street or halfway in a door?

Do you hear gunshots?  Do you see blood?

Can you detect a breath

tickle the fine hairs of your ear?

Did you see him fall?  Are the two of you alone?

Don’t take forever with it – think!

It’s okay to drag him, if he’s big and you can.

But here’s how:

Roll her over on her back

then reach in at her head and push her up

to sitting.  Take your time with this, don’t hurt yourself,

don’t pull her arms, don’t tug, remember your back.

Maybe you end up on your knees

so your whole front is like a seat back

for this insensate person.  I mean,

you have to understand, this is an intimate maneuver.

But you’re only just beginning, so.

Slide your arms under his and clasp your wrists at his chest.

Make your arms a belt around him, like a big old bear hug.

Then if you can do this, here’s a place where you need to be sure,

get up on one knee, then you and this person

you are hugging tighter than you can believe

use your legs not your back your bodies really sandwiched

you both yes that’s right come to a stand.

This is no joke.

Because now you’re committed. 

Now you could both go down.

It’s like a dance, a kind of shuffle

where you squeeze her even tighter

while you shift your position

sidle around to her side somehow

you really have to practice

and her sleeping arm you need to duck under

so it’s hanging out there zombie-like across your shoulder

but what you’re going for is to block her knees with yours

shove them up straight and locked

so for the first time you see how tall she is

in this high and doddering precarious place

where you’ve arranged yourselves.

But that’s not even all.  Are you ready?  Get ready.

Because now comes the switch.  No, seriously,

this is how you do it.

It’s the weak link in the procedure.

You have to quit the bear hug

while you ease around to his front

and grab his floppy wrists

(it helps to lean forward and crouch

so he sort of drapes across your back)

and then here we go, alright, this is it.

Get in right under her armpits

pull her arms over your shoulders like a shawl,

bend those knees, stick out your butt

(her head may loll or knock onto yours)

and take a tentative step.  You’ve got him.

You can shuffle off to what you hope is safety,

to help, to some kind of better place. 

Maybe his legs are long and drag behind,

toes drawing lines from there to here

if you’re in sand.  People may see you

and not know what to think.

But let me say this.  There is a rule

that we all follow and will hold you to.

Oh yes we will.  If she is unconscious and you touch her.

If you dare to move her sleeping form.

Until you get her the help she needs and can

do this whole thing we just rehearsed

entirely in reverse,

until that moment when you step back,

unkink your knees and spine,

wipe at your shirt and bend gasping at her side

until then — because you touched her —

you own what happens.  You are the responsible

party.  The Good Samaritan. 

In ways you must decide to bear

that is your burden too.

So this.  It helps to be ready, to have a clue.

It’s not for everybody.  I get that.

There are these risks involved

if you dare to cross that line, if

you stop and bend to touch.

You would hope if it was you.  But

I’m not here to judge.  Which is

why we practice.  So here.

A little rude but I call it

try before you buy. 

2 thoughts on “How to Carry Someone Who is Unconscious – a poem

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