Rosary for my Brace
The brace was metal, and it fastened around the ankles.
Outside in the street there was the beggar with elephantiasis; there was
the leper, the neighbor with eyes milky blind,
and in the book the child with the hand reaching out for the water.
Everyone spoke in code, everyone lied. There were the
invisible hospitals. There were the poor who could be scattered
like lice. There were the lanterns made of tin cans, which transformed
a light to lace. There was the sharp knife for the mangoes,
the machete for the coconut. Coffee trees grew in the garden,
red blood flesh with the hard bean underneath, green-tighter,
bitter, and the smell of the almond trees, and the carp
that swam under the fountains. There was Flora with the scar
bisecting her face, and the wide stitches along it
like a child would make. And the bottle of white liquor that
burned. And the doctor who smelled of tobacco. And the
boots with iron bars along the bottom. The leather boots that
smelled of sweat. And there was the doll that was like a
pretty girl. Golden hair, stiff limbs, and bird-button eyes.
And there was the world of the night and the moon and the
dog star. And the smell of jasmine and a frozen dust. A bicycle
riding along a moonlit track. Going nowhere, going to
the ocean. The beach where Einstein proved the Theory of
Relativity. Which meant there were many rooms and many
angles. Which meant that the clock, too, lied. That I could be here
and there at the same time. Except I couldn't, except I kept
falling. Back under the mosquito net. Back inside the moon tiger
And the house ticking, ticking. And the wire corset and the
steel brace whose function was to correct and straighten.
Used by permission.
Sheila Black is the author of House of Bone and Love/Iraq (both CW Press). She recently co-edited with poets Jennifer Bartlett and Mike Northen Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press). A third collection Wen Kroy is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press where it received the 2011 Orphic Prize in Poetry. She is a 2012 Witter Bynner Fellow in Poetry, selected by Philip Levine.
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