Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2020  Vol. 19 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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His stump of a leg shoots up involuntarily—
that surprised lightness and quivering—
shed of responsibility, but when the solid body
leans over the bed to reach the phone
that dropped on the floor and the battery falls out,
he is sliding off the bed, and he is crawling
now after the parts and also after the red cord
that calls for help and when he can’t reach
that, he’s crawling into the bathroom,
not crawling, with only one knee,
but scooching for the cord and pulling it.
Find something else to look at, you’re thinking,
the old man is about worn out, find another poem,
but this is the one I keep writing to see if it’s
the same one, year after year, or different.
This is the one that keeps ringing for help,
this is the one building itself up, getting a prosthetic.
“It’s worth it,” I say. “Even if you live only
a little while longer, we can donate it after.”
He wants it, really, I see that, something
to stand on. With amazing levers and hinges,
like the Wizard of Oz’s behind the curtain.
I am trying to avoid illusion. I want this to have
a heart, an answer. But he doesn’t care about that,
he only wants the phone, the clock, the book.  

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