DSQ > Spring 2008, Volume 28, No.2

Guide Dog

He's a celebrity on trains,

an unexpected guest at restaurants

where he lies still as the table legs

that frame his sprawled form.

There's a jaunt to his walk

as he guides you past sign posts,

weaves through rush hour streets

so that no one so much as brushes

your sleeve. That's your best friend

strangers are compelled to tell you,

your eyes mothers explain to their brood.

One girl spouts, dogs can see color,

thinking he knows the light is now green.

It's a though, blind, you can't possibly

stand at the helm, carefully listening,

giving commands. Or perhaps

these passers-by are merely wishful,

in love with the thought of someone

infallible leading the way.

Hemiplegia I

A rubber band, wormlike,

I can distinguish.

But button, coin, stone,

a vague weight in my palm.

Eyes closed, I want

to get it right, guess

the trinket my mother chose.

Finally she moves it

to my able hand

where, ridged, rounded, warm,

it becomes what it is.

What it was all along.

Hemiplegia II

Under the glide of my left palm,

the cool skin of your back.

Under the flat of my right, this fact,

you're solid, you're here.

Under my roaming left,

ridges that make up your spine.

Under my quiet right,

you're solid, you're here.

My left hand finds a field,

fine semicircles of hair.

My right hand, pressing you close,

knows this: you're solid, you're here.

Lesson One

Palsy, hemiplegia. I didn't know the words

but could ask why I felt less on the right.

Your heart's on the left, she said.

Like everyone's. Like Everyone.

For awhile, I believed no one could tell

warm from cool when water hit the right palm,

or feel, in those five fingers, doll hair

as soft and separate strands.

Life without life's details on that side.

But what of this detail: my mother lied.

Perhaps she wanted to give pain only

the briefest glance, to avoid talk of damage

with the damaged one, hoped to deflect

the thought of daughter as mirror,

yet remain half numb.

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