There it was, 1950-something, his right lung a little
in the evening high
school class, in the middle of a history exam, fluttering uncertainly
as he imagined Roosevelt leaning over at Yalta, Stalin smirking because
he could see
FDR fading in the blown-back
smoke of Churchill's cigar. But there was an hour
to go and other essays
Africa. The American
Constitution. The lung went suddenly limp as an empty pajama sleeve
spread out on the bed. He looked up at the smeared blackboard
Chekhov at Yalta
spitting up blood, looking like Paul Muni playing
Emile Zola, ogling
the lung just couldn't get any attention, swelling now like a sigh trying
to escape from a book. It began to curl like a manta ray riffling the
of its body
as it slid deeper into the bottom
currents of a tropical sea. No question it was hiding.
He was breathing
pounding, two jobs taking a toll
at home a father drinking up a storm. The lung fluttered and went sailing
into the ribs of an eerie white wreck. He gasped. Africa, 500 words.
The lung tried
so hard not to flatten like drapes
pulled shut to block the air, not to shrink from
the glare of Mau Maus,
of wiped machetes, the stiff gaze
of the teacher. Not to find itself beneath a sterterous father rolling
in bed every night onto a wife, where all it wanted to do was just collapse.
Or step out
into the star-struck night for a little breeze.
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