Jan 132010

by Paul Hostovsky

My Aunt Hannah taught 2nd grade

and after the first amputation

which was only a few toes

on her left foot, she came

to school carrying a silver cane,

and she let the kids use it

as a prop in their little skits,

and as a stickball bat at recess,

and to reach up into the tree

to rescue the kite. And the kids

were happy. But after the second

and third and fourth amputations—

this little piggy and his neighbor,

then the whole damn block and up to the knee,

and then a year later all over again

on the other side of the street—

the kids had a different teacher,

and my Aunt Hannah came to school

in a silver wheelchair, and she let the kids

push her around in it, and some of them

sat in her lap as she read to them

at reading time, and they asked her

questions, unselfconsciously, the way

only kids will ask: What happened to

your legs? Where are the legs now?

How do you take a shower? How

do you drive a car? It was not unlike

show and tell, and my Aunt Hannah

was happy to answer, and the kids

were happy, and she even  joked a little,

and slapped one stump and then the other,

so it looked like a flam on a pair of bongos,

or a rim shot after the punch line

of a bad joke in the Catskills.