Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tony Hoagland

Click to enlarge.

From The Sun, December 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Lucky

    If you are lucky in this life,
    you will get to help your enemy
    the way I got to help my mother
    when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

    Into the big enamel tub
    half-filled with water
    which I had made just right,
    I lowered the childish skeleton
    she had become.

    Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed
    her belly and her chest,
    the sorry ruin of her flanks
    and the frayed gray cloud
    between her legs.

    Some nights, sitting by her bed
    book open in my lap
    while I listened to the air
    move thickly in and out of her dark lungs,
    my mind filled up with praise
    as lush as music,

    amazed at the symmetry and luck
    that would offer me the chance to pay
    my heavy debt of punishment and love
    with love and punishment.

    And once I held her dripping wet
    in the uncomfortable air
    between the wheelchair and the tub,
    until she begged me like a child

    to stop,
    an act of cruelty which we both understood
    was the ancient irresistible rejoicing
    of power over weakness.

    If you are lucky in this life,
    you will get to raise the spoon
    of pristine, frosty ice cream
    to the trusting creature mouth
    of your old enemy

    because the tastebuds at least are not broken
    because there is a bond between you
    and sweet is sweet in any language.