Surgery at 14

by Timothy Blighton
Desert Moon Review
Honorable Mention, August 2009
Judged by George Szirtes


For Emily

1.
The doctor returned
from his antiseptic kingdom with a gift: your son
with his ribs split to reveal the un-lit
entrails and their favorable signs, where his heart
bulged through the separation,
like an unclenching fist, one held holy by you,
since his father struck him

down the stairs. The hiss of veins
coil and snake through his chest with the charm
of blood from a flywheel
beating an irregular time: he has inherited
your straw hair, coal-eyes; he, too, has been
stripped naked by prescription, set upon
by a father’s curse of rage.

2.
Beside his bed, the hum
of machines. An air hose strung around his neck,
he is sewn back together, all the trauma settling
between dry coughs. Yet, his eyes will open
into white knuckles; fever-dreams will set,
shaking his useless arms. He will begin
to sweat; the nurses will be unable

to mix the proper ingredients to turn
bodyweight into silence, unable to dispel
the moan-cry, or reach out
and cup the chest of a sutured effigy. His voice
will sting the nostrils. The call-light will code:
open-close, open-close, open-close.



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