Fall 2010 / Issues / Poetry 2010 / Volume 41

The Broken Leg — Amanda Moore

Eventually it comes between us:

not the plaster barricade

between every tender moment we might have,

but the dependence.

After the flurry of surgeons and worry of damage

there is the carrying of urine, changing of bandage,

the creak of crutches and incessant talk of scabs.

Like a shabby patch of grass

I am stretched out beneath him

benignly offering servitude:

not the meal or the pillow, the TV or the bed or the Vicodin

but the nagging truth

behind it all.

In short, it’s unromantic:

this child in the shape of my husband,

this outstretched hand, rumpled head and hungry mouth.

And the bright side? Well, talk to me another day.

For now it is logistics and meds,

car pools and take-out,

the weight of one house,

its dishes and litter and dust on my shoulders.

And then there is the moment

we look across the bed at one another,

mangled leg between us like a sleeping child

and understand this is what it will one day be like:

crisis and then a kind of solitude.

This is what the broken leg has brought us: a glimpse

of the way life will take us to our knees before we leave it.

I want to say thanks a lot.

It’s hard enough some days

to drag myself from bed, tired pilgrim

limping toward the impossible grotto of happiness,

without it tangibly beside me,

a reminder of my body’s

tremendous capacity for decay.

And did I mention the servitude? How I proffer it

tenderly and resentfully at once, each day

a new opportunity to fail him.

Yet, I can appreciate that bike that broke his leg

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