A poem for all the days I didn’t write a poem
When I was seven,
I split my chin wide open
on a metal bar connecting the carpet
in the dimly lit basement of the First Baptist Church.
It was practice for a relay,
running in circles,
baton out ready for the pass,
balance always just this side of falling.
My days as an Awana Olympian were numbered –
Not just because of blood
spurting down my cartoon printed shirt
with open-mouthed gapes
from the startled children around me.
Not just because my parents
didn’t go to that church, or any church,
or because I was about as athletic
as the blackened potatoes
my great grandfather left Ireland to escape.
Not just because I now cried tears of rage
subsuming the tears of pain
because everyone could see me cry.
But because later, in the doctors office,
after he removed the 5 neat little stitches
from under my chin,
I stood picking out a sticker
and my focus got a little funny
and suddenly I was staring at the ceiling
and my mother was fluttering around
sounding very anxious
and the nurse was sitting next to me
telling me not to get up yet –
just wait a minute dear,
for the blood to return to your head.
I have lost enough blood,
Blood, dignity, the good graces
of whatever deity those Baptists
I was done.
Today, I still have a dent, just under my chin.
It’s not quite large enough
to claim the name of scar,
but it’s a good reminder
of the way things are.