I sit in the front row of
bleachers -- cheap seats for greater grief.
the tribe in his ribs
the strength in him, keen, huddled
runs through the hits, breathes
through the pale ghost of stitches
these games that go long into hard victories.
Who knows how long we have them?
when sirens call to the streets
when one sends back his fatigue
The bones of an open humvee. The bones
at a roadside checkpoint.
It might be that we swallow them:
A belly song. A flag sent home
A rosary like dog tags
A triage of crows flies over
packs up his cleats
The fog of his breathing surrenders
He limps to the car where I tender
his wounds. The bones
of a cradle, breaking.
First appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Fall 2009
Used by permission.
Kathleen Hellen is the author of The Girl Who Loved Mothra (Finishing Line Press, 2010). Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review; the Cortland Review; The Evansville Review; the Hollins Critic; In Posse Review; Prairie Schooner; RHINO; Subtropics; among others; and on WYPR's "The Signal." Awards include the Washington Square Review and Thomas Merton poetry prizes, as well as individual artist grants from Maryland and Baltimore City. She is senior editor for The Baltimore Review.
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