Amanda Moore was one of the readers at Britt Marie’s last Sunday. This was my favorite of the poems she read:
The Broken Leg
Eventually it comes between us:
not the plaster barricade
between every tender moment we might have,
but the dependence.
After the flurry of surgeons
and worry of permanent damage
there is the carrying of urine
the changing of bandages
the creak of crutches and incessant talk of scabs.
Like a shabby patch of grass
I am stretched out beneath him, trampled
and benignly offering servitude:
not the meal or the pillow, the TV or the bed or the Vicodin,
but the nagging truth behind it all.
In short, it’s unromantic,
this child in the shape of my husband,
this outstretched hand, rumpled head and hungry mouth.
And the bright side? Well, talk to me another day.
For now it is logistics and medicine,
car pools and take-out pizza, not laughing
while he climbs the stairs on his butt.
And it’s the weight of one house,
its dishes and litter and dust on my shoulders.
Then there is the moment
we look across the bed at one another,
mangled leg between us like a sleeping child,
and understand this is what long love will one day bring:
a wheel chair, a diaper, a walker, some forgetting
and then a kind of solitude.
This is what the broken leg has brought us: a glimpse
of the way life will take us to our knees
before we leave it. I want to say
Thanks a lot.
It’s hard enough some days
to drag myself from bed, tired pilgrim limping
toward the impossible grotto of happiness
without the truth so tangibly beside me:
this reminder of my body’s tremendous capacity
for decay. And did I mention the servitude? How I proffer it
tenderly and resentfully at once, each day
a new opportunity to fail him.
And yet, I don’t despise the bike that broke his leg
and dragged us to the knowing. At night
when I replay in dreams the afternoon
that flipped us both to the curb, sick wail of ambulance
and everything that followed, I don’t always say
Stop. Don’t be a jackass. You don’t know what this will do to us.
Sometimes I say Go faster. Let me see that trick you do again.
Originally published in Tahoma Literary Review
Amanda will be reading at the Writing Salon this Sunday.