Bone Season

We are the tribe of limpers,
my son and I. For so long I denied
the presence of pain at
our table, which I now grasp was
a kind of cruelty, my own dictatorship
to the anthem of "I Will Survive"
We are a tribe because we are
identifiable, like a butterfly because
of the coffee-colored stains
on its fragile laced wings. What does
it do but try to approach the single yellow
sunflower, seeds packed in its heart,
which we planted, my son and I,
this quarantine season? We speak in whispers
of the doctors; we say they can do
nothing. Pain, pain, the old gray
friend, like a man from the fifties,
formal with his gold watch and
felt hat, which he balances deftly
between his knees. What are the cures
for the boredom of his company?
We put our ears to dead shells
recovered long ago and try to hear
the past of oceans. It all flows, I mean,
pain, the time, our eyes, it all flows,
and we barely stop to register
how days mark us. Pain has no time
for such distinctions. He likes to pinch
a wrist, and elbow, the back of a knee.
Like a noir detective he is most fluid
at night. He wishes us to learn the sky—
its windswept corners, the reason Polaris
appears so much lonelier than
other stars. 

Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (Educe Press, 2017). Her chapbook All the Sleep in the World is newly released from Alabrava Press. She is a co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, The Spectacle, The Southampton Review, Kenyon Review Online, The New York Times and other places. She currently lives in San Antonio, TX and works at AWP.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761