Our instructor was maybe 20
with a fifth grader’s
grasp of the English language,
despite this being the $110
English language version of the class.
She continually mixed
plurals, singulars, past, present,
and had trouble with subject-verb agreement.
There was a mother in her fifties with her teen daughter
they just want to help people.
A blond woman in her forties who looked like a preschool teacher
A large Mexican man who had taken this class three times before
the know it all security guard.
A man in his twenties who looked like a frat boy or a lifeguard
preparing for an EMT program.
A bleach blond intellectual looking woman
just here for personal reasons.
A man with a prominent scar
preparing to become a foster parent.
My husband and I were most like him
preparing to adopt
but unlike the foster parent in progress, our scars were mostly internal.
The mannequins never had a chance.
There were only five of them, nine of us.
They were only half a torso,
put together incorrectly so their chests wouldn’t even rise
for a false sign of life.
All had Barbie colored faces and torsos,
except the two with chocolate chests,
who appeared to be disguised in white face or black chest.
We tried CPR as well as we could anyhow.
Complete with non-latex gloves and breathing barriers.
Our dominant hand carefully placed between the nipple lines,
other hand on top,
30 hard, quick palpitations with our arms straight,
backs arched, and butts high toward the ceiling.
We all looked like porn stars on the brink of retirement,
our rhythm rising and falling
—mechanical from too many gangbangs.
The mother looked the most experienced with
and comfortable in this position.
Afterwards, our fingers smelled like condoms.
The mannequin babies were
a bit of a different story: bodies intact,
two withbrown bodies, one with a matching brown face,
just to meet quota.
We were supposed to cover
the baby mouth and nose simultaneously with our mouth.
Again, the mother got the prize for this,
parting and curling her lips unnaturally far around the infant face.
We even used our breathing barriers on the little ones.
Their plastic chests rose and fell
with rescue breaths and their heads
would flop if not supported.
We all desperately attempted to revive the babies,
but none of them would ever breathe
on their own.