Brendan Walsh

The Girl Who Did Not Die

Vientiane, Laos

She didn’t die
though her head
bounced once, twice,
against the road
that held her
little body swathed
in black dress.
We helped her,
ten Lao men
and me failing
the ambulance call,
all drunk but
she the drunkest;
her blooded forehead--
the collision’s wet
stamp. She didn’t
die, simply learned
death is silent,
more silent even
than Vientiane past
curfew when cops
and dogs nap
against naked signposts.
She liked it,
how it faded
(even the motorbike’s
predictable groan)
into sleep without
those weighty dreams—
when one man
flipped her gashed
skull skyward, eyes
griptight closed, slowly
regaining streetlit life,
she said no-
leave it behind:
a body demands
breath (all behind),
the men demand
consciousness, days demand
waking and working.
we don’t want
to die until
we learn it’s
pure as sleep.

Brendan Walsh has lived and taught in South Korea, Laos, and South Florida. His work appears in Glass PoetryWisconsin ReviewMudfishLines + Stars, and other journals. He is the author of Make Anything Whole (Five Oaks) and Go (Aldrich). His chapbook, Buddha vs. Bonobo, is forthcoming from Sutra Press. He’s online at