A Cut

I lost part of my finger to the kiss
of a deli slicer, an accident that haunts me
to this day.

In the hospital, the doctor numbed the tip
where what was left
had to be cleaned and scrubbed—
my shirt and apron a mere canvas to a Pollack incident.

Is it normal to think of
                    Vincent Van Gogh in such a moment?—

Knife to ear, blade and hand:
each fast tragedy
                        playing out so slow.

Yet, manic intent is far more poetic
than chance…

          Oh, Van Gogh,
                              how did it feel
          to give a gift no lover could understand?—

          The touch of fever,
          an offering born from denial?

So, I will sit here,

a portrait

                of injury, just another subject in a still life—
captured in a haze of painkillers and gauze.

The Camperdown Elm

For A .G.

‘Camperdownii’, often called Camperdown Elm, is a small, top-grafted, weeping landscape tree. It typically grows to 15-25’ tall, forming a round dome of contorted branches that weep to the ground.

The Camperdown Elm waits.

                                        Its exhausted branches
sag beneath the weight of their own

An earthen scent mixes with the twilight,
as fireflies meddle
                                  with the perfection of night.

                          So I wait

Addressing a halved silence, cricket calls
and the mockingbird’s cadence
                    is cradled by the surrounding woods.

I am what remains of gnarled regret

A knotted version
                                        of a man, twisted and
malformed, heavy arms and hands bowed.

A grafted corpus
                                        of sorrow and of burden—

and that sorrow remains,
                                        a last leaf in autumn that never