November 4, 2009

Jennifer Perrine

HOME VISIT: DANNY

Now, I remember nothing of Danny
but the smudge of freckles that hovered
above his upper lip, that constellation

an incongruous mustache on his schoolboy
face. Of his parents, even less: the bite
of his father’s heels into the gravel

drive, the camphor on his mother’s hands.
But no: here are Danny’s hands, too: his little
fist wrapped around the quivering vibrissae

of some stray cat, how he slipped the scissors
open and shut, then bent to kiss the stumps,
the slide of their needle pricks against his cheeks.

Not a real memory, but a scene
I’ve watched through his parents’ retelling:
the details just short of Danny’s own version,

where his mother observes the small drama,
says nothing, locks him in the pantry
long enough that he tries opening tins

with his teeth, names the two spiders curled
dead on the shelf, even prays a little,
silently, after his voice dries up.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007

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