dread and endurance, deepening in intensity with each
new phrase. down into the core. And, for just a few beats,
somewhere near the end, I see a ballerina, not leaping,
but, with her shoulders wide, striding, step by measured
step, as all of us must, to the executioner.
At the Museum of Fine Art, the glazed terra cotta della
Robbia Mary holds her baby son with one large hand around
his waist and the other over the top of his skull, gripping,
with a raw ache, his hair through her fingers, holding for
dear life, and, for a glimmer, I see the boy’s head move
just slightly as if fussed by a bad dream and her lips bend
to touch his forehead, as if to kiss away what is to come
for her and for him after they return to their pose.
Over my head, the electricity of eight younger bodies
cracks from one side of the back yard to the other as the
sharp-moved mother arranges the line of food and dishes
and utensils on the table and the dutied father is firing the
hot dogs, and I am on a blanket, twelve years old, looking
deep into the 1961 batting average of Wally Post (.294)
and finding, for the briefest moment, a hint of redemption.
The management said to tell the story of my life with
a few gestures, like curling into the fetal position and
pointing to the lost hope and moving my right thumb
across the throat under my innocent chin. Amen.
Patrick T. Reardon
This poem was originally published in Literary Orphans 32 in D3ecember, 2017.