HOLDING HANDS WITH THE TIN MAN You get enough weight on your back, you twist and turn and pop something loose. TV football commentator She was paring apples when she learned the dangers of bearing too much weight on artificial turf. Sometimes you twist and turn— yes, she thought, as she peeled a skin and gouged a core. How many times had she sliced apples? How many Dorothys have landed in Oz? She wouldn’t mind holding hands with the Tin Man—one video vision right now seems as good as another. It’s the weight you worry about, she thought hefting the usual images: block, tackle, knock your enemy before he knocks you. Run free. Her peelings fell tangled in the sink as the crowd let fly its inevitable roar— all those throats straining, echoing from the screen, or in barrooms where guys hoot, slap hands and grab bottle after bottle of beer. She knows a man drinks alone until his rage spends itself in sleep. No matter his little son who wets the bed or stands in a corner waiting to don pads and armor, crash about. And her brothers, so far away now, who cold autumn evenings would hurl themselves against one another— how gracefully their young heads bobbed on slender stems. Under the helmets she could see the exposed place below the crew-cut stubble, a soft dent, like a kiss, an offering. What’s easy in leaving behind? The vulnerable neck thickens into meatiness. The knife slips and cuts a thumb. And here she yearns for that hollow man, his heartfelt, heart-less grace. The Dropped Hand(2nd edition) Lotus Press, 2012. Reprinted by permission.
A PUZZLE —after Rene Magritte’s “The Therapeutist” Maybe he lost his body and they healed him with a cage. Maybe his questions dissolved his brain. Why is he called a survivor? There is a brass drape over the headless shoulder and a bird who considers entering its cage. How peacefully the breeze must flow through him. He has opened the cage and that fuzzy bird, his heart, sits on the ledge looking in. The head has sunk below his shoulders, while on the far wall a weapon oozes blood. He has left a space for the answers to our questions. He has left a space for the whispers of children, for belief in humanity, for our chance to take a stand. The hand rests calmly on its walking stick. The children still have questions. Where do their gazes go? Why doesn’t he have a body? How can he smell the air? The Dropped Hand(2nd edition) Lotus Press, 2012. Reprinted by permission.