She broke

by Patrick T. Reardon

She broke my arm when I was a baby.

It wasn’t my arm but call it an arm.

It mended crooked, at an odd angle,

thickened, clotted, stiff instead of supple,

a wrinkled butterfly wing, an antelope limp.

I could not swing a baseball bat

or brush a lover’s hair.

I still have the broken arm.

My brother’s hurt was worse. He died of it.

She tattooed her scripture on my spine, her

gospel proclamations on the inside of my

skull, her dire psalms on the bottom of my

right heel, on the sweep of my right hip,

black etched lines, leaking, insinuating.

            The tree grows out of my

            chest, another from my

            forearm, my jaw, my

            left shin. Syrup tapped,

            dripped, fermented, sold,

            re-sold. A forest where

            Abel kills, Noah drowns,

            the Messiah leper never

            gets the ghost back.

Let me open the apartment door of her

limping mother in the kitchen, baking

bread, breaking bread, the afternoon

sun jeweling soil and backyard dung

and growing things and creeping things

and the newborn and the dying and the

dead. Her bread was sprinkled with flour.

Two candles under a throat to bless away.

My brother used a nickel-plated

revolver instead, a blessing of

the endless white.

            He was a wall

            of alternating

            anger and pain.

            You try to live in that home.

           

He wanted to stomp-dance

on the harridan nun’s grave.

Now, with his somber bullet,

his ashes are curb muck, roof

dust, grit in the hop-skip girl’s

hair scattered in the wind.

No dancing on his grave for

anyone who hated him or loved.

Patrick T. Reardon is the author of eight books, including “Requiem for David,” a poetry collection from Silver Birch Press, and “Faith Stripped to Its Essence,” a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo's novel Silence. Reardon, a former reporter with the Chicago Tribune, has had poetry published by Silver Birch Press, Cold Noon, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Time for Singing, Tipton Poetry Journal, Under a Warm Green Linden and The Write City.

 

His poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016 and 2017. His novella Babe was short-listed by Stewart O’Nan for the annual Faulkner-Wisdom Contest of the Faulkner Society. His Pump Don't Work blog can be found at http://www.patricktreardon.com/blog/.

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April 2019

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