Back in December of 2007, I was driving to do a Eucharist at the Episcopal Church at Yale. It was raining on I-91, but as soon as I took the exit I knew it was ice, being elevated. I crashed and the air bag broke my left arm in 6 pieces--3 is the radius and 3 in the ulna. I had surgery two days later and began physical therapy two days after that. But before that, I wrote two poems. Here they are--poems inspired by a broken arm. And both about my wife, Bern.
They are all inside us, everywhere, I've come to know.
They hold things together, keep things straight,
defy gravity and move our bodies right along.
Just like that...God bless them--bones.
Insects have an exoskeleton--wear their bones outside.
Ours, however, are inside, hiding among the mushy stuff--
muscles, flesh, tendons, blood vessels, organs and all.
So, when we break them--smash them, mash them,
splinter them all to hell, the mush and oatmeal
all inside flops around like a dying snake.
Science can redo them, but we need more
when we break our bones.
We need pillows and drinks of water and a gentle hand.
And that you gave me...
enough and more than enough.
Healing comes from within and without.
You have been my healer--
not just of bones but heart and mind as well.
Trying to type with a broken arm
in a one finger peck,
was the hardest thing I tried to do.
I'd figured out how to open child-proof pill bottles
and carry thing with one hand and a spint.
I could manage showering and dressing
putting on my socks.
One hand and a splint
works well enough.
But answering email opened me to something
I did not know that I did not know.
Touch typist since age 16,
I have no idea where the letters are
on a keyboard.
I've decades ago transferred all that
to muscle memory.
"A" is the little finger of my left hand--
but where is it
among the black keys with white letters?
I thought someone had come in and removed the ";"
from my computer until I thought to ask my right
hand where the semi-colon might be hiding out.
Those speedy hunt and peckers, filling the page with type,
have not given over their memory
to the muscles of their hands.
What else have I come to do through muscle memory?
Trace the outlines of your face, my love?
Hold your hand? Watch you smile?
Observe your anger? Listen to you?
Let me break those bones and interrupt that memory
so that I can experience you all new,
without knowing where the keys are...
discovering you again....For the first time.
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