Andrea Carter Brown
To an Unknown Goddess
She of the missing digits, who cradles a handful
of sheaves which lost their tassels
so long ago the broken stems flower with mildew
and algae; she whose helmet of neat banana curls
is netted by spider webs, whose two
still perfect ears are stopped by fall’s drift and delicate
left nostril drips a dust strand with which the breeze
toys; she, whose voluminous dolomitic
folds, tender inside of bent elbow, and flexed toes
are dirty for eternity, or at least until they crumble
to grit, whose one bared breast is polished
by elements, her arched neck lovely, her open palms,
despite lacking fingers, relaxed; you, who cannot
see or hear, touch or feel, are more
beautiful for being broken. Once children like us,
imperfect, flawed, were left on a mountain to die.
Tell me, goddess, how we came to be
stranded here together on this Adirondack porch.
A Crash Course in Perspective
Babies stare at you. Toddlers too.
In the wheelchair you are just
another big head on a little body.
Eyes, meeting, do not blink.
The elderly grin, approach, inquire
solicitously, listen, make comforting
sounds. Today they are walking, cause
enough, they know now, for rejoicing.
Tomorrow, well, you never know . . .
The truly, that is to say permanently,
sometimes terribly, disabled offer,
if anything, the ghost of a smile,
a flicker of recognition. The way
relatives identify a beloved’s body
by the scar only they knew existed.
How about the rest of us? We rush
to open doors, crack sick jokes or make
unintentionally callous, cruel comments,
If I were you I’d kill myself, and soon
as decency allows, hurry on newly
grateful, independent ways, crossing
fingers, toes, thanking our lucky stars.