Tony Hoagland(1953 - / North Carolina / United States)
- by Tony Hoagland39
If you are lucky in this life, you will get to help your enemy the way I got to help my mother when she was weakened past the point of saying no.
Into the big enamel tub half-filled with water which I had made just right, I lowered the childish skeleton she had become.
Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed her belly and her chest, the sorry ruin of her flanks and the frayed gray cloud between her legs.
Some nights, sitting by her bed book open in my lap while I listened to the air move thickly in and out of her dark lungs, my mind filled up with praise as lush as music,
amazed at the symmetry and luck that would offer me the chance to pay my heavy debt of punishment and love with love and punishment.
And once I held her dripping wet in the uncomfortable air between the wheelchair and the tub, until she begged me like a child
to stop, an act of cruelty which we both understood was the ancient irresistible rejoicing of power over weakness.
If you are lucky in this life, you will get to raise the spoon of pristine, frosty ice cream to the trusting creature mouth of your old enemy
because the tastebuds at least are not broken because there is a bond between you and sweet is sweet in any language.
- by Tony Hoagland37
Sometimes I wish I were still out on the back porch, drinking jet fuel with the boys, getting louder and louder as the empty cans drop out of our paws like booster rockets falling back to Earth
and we soar up into the summer stars. Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead, bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish and old space suits with skeletons inside. On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,
and it is good, a way of letting life out of the box, uncapping the bottle to let the effervescence gush through the narrow, usually constricted neck.
And now the crickets plug in their appliances in unison, and then the fireflies flash dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex someone is telling in the dark, though
no one really hears. We gaze into the night as if remembering the bright unbroken planet we once came from, to which we will never be permitted to return. We are amazed how hurt we are. We would give anything for what we have.
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