Oyster Boy Review 05  
  September 1996
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» Levee 67


Bodily Harm

Judith Chatowsky

"I'm sorry about your fall," I write
and concern myself as if this were a minor accident
one you'll recover from in a few days
maybe a week, at most a month
I speak to you as if cool hands
were not needed to roll you to your side
to your back, onto your stomach,
as if that wheeled chair were not
a permanent fixture.

I can see you flying, almost winged
over that mad horse
as its forelegs slip into a ravine
I can hear the crush of bones as the horse follows
and 1500 pounds of flesh land on your spine
leaving you in a circle of death
your limp feet pointing towards the lake
I can only imagine what I saw in the wild
look of your eyes clear
but the color of the ocean in a storm
when you returned home
like John the Baptist
returning from the woods.

I want your legs to move; I dream of it nights
whispering to your spine, to your crushed
nerves, as if I were sentient as a plant
and able to communicate across space
as if the vectors of my mind were
medicinal arrows penetrating
enough to pierce the places where
you are hurt.

Now you lie in Southern Florida, hardware
protruding like a tumor from your back
and I am 900 miles away working on a quilt
as if by sewing together the scraps of my life
a stained cotton shirt
worn paisley sheets
I can fuse together ripped
nerves, shards of bone and marrow
and the fragments
of our hearts.