blackbirdonline journalFall 2009  Vol. 8  No. 2
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The lacerations outside
and within the lower lip
don’t communicate. One
is vertical, the other supine
and jeweled. The shallow
slash bled more, coating
her teeth rust. They thought
she’d lost some teeth.
Her brother’s fear makes
her cry. The other child
has two puncture wounds
where the dog took hold.
The uncle stopped her
from pulling away so
the skin wouldn’t tear
into flaps. At the time,
no one understood why
he clasped them together.

Our gowns wear thin.
A small island marks
the left side of the fifth
boy’s forehead, above
the eyebrow. He fell once
and was glued. Four days
later, he fell again. Now
he can’t wet his head or
the second wound, the one
that can’t be glued, will
release and flare. We line up
before the Tumbling E.
We don’t remember names.

They arrive on sunny days
in winter and wait beside
the aquarium. The ninth
or tenth needs a singed cast
removed. Her father
brought her. The mother
remains angry and away.
Halos of blisters are the fault
of the fire makers. We wrap
their children in sheets
and tape them to boards.
We hold their skulls until
our arms quiver and their
faces bead. They arrive
in rain without shoes.
Some break into song
and some can’t breathe,
lips clamped bluish over
tight-hinged throats.
We count the rise and fall,
lay the fields and reach
around them. We run
before the little weight
goes limp. The gun bumps
marrow. We hold the note.
We hold the strings taut.   end

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