December 8, 2016

April Salzano

RATTLE, ISSUE 47, PAGE 8

My niece has scoliosis. I had just read the best poem of my life
before my sister texted to tell me that. I was laughing out loud
one minute, crying the next because the poem was so funny,
because the poem was so sad. Having not seen it coming
added to the effect. I am sure there is a name for that,
it should be called the Carver effect, I always thought, but now
I’ve decided that maybe it should be named after this guy I just read.
I am not going to say his name because I feel like that would be stealing
something from him, but there I was, laughing in the kitchen,
and he punched me right in the face when nobody was
looking like he was saying, here take this. My dad used to
do that when we laughed too much. All I know of scoliosis is that
it means a bending of the spine, a kind of comma-stance, a bit of a lean,
like a semicolon for a lower body. My heart is broken. My son
just got kicked out of public school for aggression and raging nudity.
Someday it will be funny, I hope, like when we look back
and picture him tearing his pants and underwear off in a rage,
streaking down the hall all bare-assed and determined
to escape the four-person floor restraint this one time,
knowing they would never hold a naked kid down. Who would
do that? Maybe he was just tired of the humming
noise the florescent lights make, of trying to explain
that specific pain mixed with hunger and deficit
of language when using a picture schedule, of choice-boards
with inadequate choices. And maybe we will laugh even harder
when we think of the administration thinking
that a nine-year-old autistic boy could intend to choke
his teacher until she nearly fainted, that he could mean anything
sexual by disrobing, as they called it in the report they sent home,
and would have called it in the police report they didn’t file.
They could have pressed charges, they reminded me,
as they drew up paperwork for alternate placement
while I waited at home, curved like a full
set of parenthesis around the naked body of my boy,
telling him in whispers that everything was going to be okay,
my face aching from laughter, my eyes stinging from pain.

from Turn Left Before Morning
2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize Selection

[download audio]

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April Salzano lives with her husband and two sons in rural Pennsylvania. (website)