Prodigal

Copper and ginger, the plentiful
mass of it bound, half loosed, and
bound again in lavish

disregard as though such heaping up
were a thing indifferent, surfeit from
the table of the gods, who do

not give a thought to fairness, no,
who throw their bounty in a single
lap. The chipped enamel—blue—on her nails.

The lashes sticky with sunlight. You would
swear she hadn't a thought in her head
except for her buttermilk waffle and

its just proportion of jam. But while
she laughs and chews, half singing
with the lyrics on the radio, half

shrugging out of her bathrobe in the
kitchen warmth, she doesn't quite
complete the last part, one of the

sleeves—as though, you'd swear, she
couldn't be bothered—still covers
her arm. Which means you do not

see the cuts. Girls of an age—
fifteen for example—still bearing
the traces of when-they-were-

new, of when-the-breasts-had-not-
been-thought-of, when-the-troublesome-
cleft-was-smooth, are anchored

on a faultline, it's a wonder they
survive at all. This ginger-haired
darling isn't one of my own, if

own is ever the way to put it, but
I've known her since her heart could still
be seen at work beneath

the fontanelles. Her skin
was almost otherworldly, touch
so silken it seemed another kind

of sight, a subtler
boundary than obtains for all
the rest of us, though ordinary

mortals bear some remnant too,
consider the loved one's fine-
grained inner arm. And so

it's there, from wrist to
elbow, that she cuts. She takes
her scissors to that perfect page, she's good,

she isn't stupid, she can see that we
who are children of plenty have no
excuse for suffering we

should be ashamed and so she is
and so she has produced this many-
layered hieroglyphic, channels

raw, half healed, reopened
before the healing gains momentum, she
has taken for her copy-text the very

cogs and wheels of time. And as for
her other body, says the plainsong
on the morning news, the hole

in the ozone, the fish in the sea,
you were thinking what exactly? You
were thinking a comfortable

breakfast would help? I think
I thought we'd deal with that tomorrow.
Then you'll have to think again.

by Linda Gregerson

Other poems of GREGERSON (42)

Comments (0)

There is no comment submitted by members.