These two poems by Abby N. Lewis grapple with the painfulness of memory and loss of agency in relation to the fallibility and frailness of the human body…
by: Abby N. Lewis
my hands are red red red
can’t be mine
remember the gravel in my palms,
the shushing of my hands across pavement.
remember seeing the work boots
behind me, my neck craned to see.
remember the train as it passed,
sound without savior.
not remembering what happened next,
how I got home.
not remembering whose blood is
hidden in the crevices of this body.
can’t be mine
all I see is red red red
Small Hands, Bad Back
Dad’s back is inflamed;
I laugh as he shuffles into the living room,
bowed as a caveman tending his fire.
But the laughter is only to yank the fear back.
I separated from my parents at the store once
to use the bathroom. When I returned,
Mom said, She found us already. I replied,
It was easy to find the giant man.
Back then, he stood tall, towering over everything, fatherly skyscraper.
Now, each episode beats my father nearer
to the ground. The chiropractor visits
no longer work like they used to.
There is no magic touch left in those fingers.
The grocery store becomes more labyrinthine
each visit. In the canned foods isle,
Popeye and the Green Giant conspire
over the squeak of damaged wheels
like skipping records, flexing
their bulging muscles. I knock Popeye
into the cart, taking care he lands on his
face, flaunt my own untatted muscles back
at the green man left on the shelf,
a promise for another day.
Ageing is never graceful—
I would cure my father if I could,
massage the spine until it’s
powerful as any ancestral tree.
But there is no magic in
these small hands either.
Abby N. Lewis is a poet from Dandridge, Tennessee. She is the author of the chapbook This Fluid Journey (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and the poetry collection Reticent (Grateful Steps, 2016). Her work has appeared in over a dozen journals, including Timber, Red Eft Review, The Allegheny Review, Sanctuary, and elsewhere. You can keep up with her on her website: freeairforfish.com.