The National Catholic Review

Those wooden floors with their pine-scented antiseptic
and the argus-eyed lights in the gunmetal shadows
of the 59th Street Bridge. And there you are, a small boy

strapped to a gurney as the mask covers your face,
the sweet smell muffling your cries, two nurses in white
guiding you down some endless hall, the click of wheels

going round & round. And your younger brother tied
to the table beside you, still and unmoving, as if already
lost, and the ether takes hold and the body goes under.

The body unfolds & the music begins, much as a mother’s
musings, the missing mother who went off through
the locked door, whispering it’s all right, it’s all right,

my little ones, you’ll be fine, fine, just fine-O. And you listen
in the time you have left to the honeyed humming
in the spinning brain, the merest medley of song, so that

even the glint of that scalpel becomes part of the song now,
as the mother sings on, bending above you, bidding
her pretty ones to let go as she has and give over to sleep.

Paul Mariani, poet, biographer and memoirist, former poetry editor of America, is the University Professor of English at Boston College.

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MICHAEL TRUSCOTT | 3/8/2012 - 11:16pm

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