The Permanent Wound
My mother with her fists full
of thistle and one stillborn kitten
to bury out back. Into the vine-
bound earth, my mother plunged
a metal shovel so deep it left
a tang on my tongue. Now my sons
are leaving home. How to stop
the ruin? How not to sit swollen
and stung? My mother in the dark
yard, digging until her fingers
went numb. The earth devouring
what we left to rot. No wonder
she courts the surgeon’s knife.
We want the permanent wound.
Editor’s Note: This harrowing poem begins with an unforgettable image and continues in that vein, with startling enjambment and piercing questions that lead to a disquieting last line.