Category Archives: prose
My four-year-old self was a daredevil. I was fearless. I’d climb trees that were off limits,
visit neighbors several blocks away without telling my mother where I was going, and put dirt in the gas tank of my daddy’s car, because I wanted to “help out.”
One day I jumped on my tricycle and raced toward the street. Instead of stopping at the curb, I kept going. As I plunged into the street, I also tumbled over the handlebars. My chin smacked the pavement. Blood spewed everywhere. I ran back to the house, screaming in terror, sure that I was going to bleed to death.
My mother gave me a towel (cloth, not paper!) to stanch the bleeding, and then put my little brother and me into the Old Black Ford (no seatbelts!) for a trip to the doctor’s office.
“It’s not that bad,” the doctor said, after his nurse had cleansed the wound with stinging antiseptic. “But I want to close it up with a couple of stitches.”
Stitches? I screamed hysterically. No needle and thread in my skin! No way! Even the doctor’s soothing reassurances could not calm me down.
Finally he relented. “All right,” he said, “I think we can take care of that with a butterfly bandage.”
After he cut a piece of tape in the shape of a butterfly and placed it over the wound, the doctor sent me on my way. “Keep that butterfly on for about four or five days,” he said, “and then have your mother take it off. You’ll be just fine.”
My mother and I agreed to follow the doctor’s orders.
Decades later, though, whenever I tilt my head back while looking in the mirror, I see a jagged scar on my chin—the price I paid for having escaped the dreaded stitches.
More A Pantry of Prose #6 at Poets United: “Stitches”
I discover the poetry of Jane Kenyon a few weeks after my father dies. I pick her Collected Poems at random from the library bookshelf and begin to read.
Nothing has prepared me for such a frank, yet delicate, appraisal of the world, and line by line I begin to weep.
Eleven years after my father dies, I am lying in bed, trying to prepare myself for sleep as Mrs. Hill, my high school English teacher, said I should: by letting good words have their way with me just before I turn off the light.
So I visit the nursing home where Jane Kenyon’s mother-in-law, a tired, wild horse, lies dying, and I hear her plead for the Master to come with a halter that He himself has fashioned, and lead the old horse home.
And I press a cookie to my forehead with Jane, to honor her dead mother-in-law (as well as the cousin who baked the cookie), because there is nothing else to do at a time like this.
What more can I ask than the gift of Jane’s good words for my lullaby this evening, when even the coyotes seem to be weeping for something lost?
More A Pantry of Prose at Poets United