Mar 152014

by henry 7. reneau, jr.


for nisha


i cannot hide my fears from my child—

built from my flesh & animated by my desperate expectations,

every pinnacle of hope with its dimension of debt


—so why try?


my child is beguiling mystery, eternal radiance of nuclear sun,

a myriad of rainforest birdsong in the secretive span

between constellation of stars

& a kiloton of dead-weight dread

that rests its wide haunches onto my heart, & clings


to that which has happened,

a smooth, shiny carapace of concern enfolding great love

that is trapped

like a silent imitation of angels who are mute

& therefore terrifying.


my child, barely breathing, not after tragedy,

but in its aftermath,

& dreaming

ten million, million adjectives for suffering

without knowledge of resolution, the final act.


no well-stitched words of condolence

can halt the block of concrete

falling slowly out of heaven:


wingless, eyeless,

breathtakingly patient Harbinger of Death,


& impersonal as a shark.


that which has happened,

that is, & is not, a crushing gravity—

an aftermath slicing definition from her precious individuality,


processed, eviscerated, mangled, honed,

sedated, so as not to suffer—her ravaged beauty

like a pregnant, glowing agony  

birthing slow-motion struggling & a feeble cough


the venomous toad of post-anesthesia into a hospital issue,

plastic, pink kidney


& the persistent itch

about rough­-hewn sutured scars;

who can bear the awful opening of her eyes the happenstance color of distance

before the cure?

a morbid anticipating the seizure-white venom of chemotherapy


with its thousand immolations by essence of mustard gas & silent

Chernobyl rems of radiation intruding into bone— a parasitic life-form,

its evolution

marked by experience

on the scarred landscape of battlefields, myriad bomb craters


& rubblized ruins—

so deliberate, so cruel, a divine watchmaker

positioning cogs & gears, a someone,

put her in an oven & leering at her through the glass.


her body starved, illuminated by a nagging chastisement of fear &

contorted into a paralysis of pseudo-sleep

like a ghost,

or the body of a soon ghost

fallen into cold, quarry-deep waters,


just enough time to pray a thousand, thousand

mighty prayers

that flicker tiny sparks from the flaming eye of hope,


as some, not all, will be saved sometimes.