The Children’s Wing

By MARIA TERRONE

Not a place to take flight but where downy-skinned
children can sometimes heal like fallen sparrows

in a shoe box, a place I found myself at nine,
concussed.       The child in the rail-rimmed bed

was crying out in the night,
his stuffed toy fallen beyond reach,

and pretending to sleep, I felt his bottomless sorrow
as my own.       Please pick it up

over and over begged the child of perhaps four years,
a cry unheard until the nurse arrived

at last. Not his mother, I thought, but surely
like her. Instead a woman

who bent over the boy, growling
Shut up, shut up or I’ll give you the needle

until his pleas ended with a whimper,
O.K., but can you pick it up?—

a scene that knocked my view of the world
askew. Suddenly I was bereft—of what

exactly, I didn’t know, but crushed
by inexpressible loss. Poor dumb witness.

 

 

[Purchase Issue 14 here.]

 

 

Maria Terrone’s poetry collections are Eye to Eye; A Secret Room in Fall (McGovern Prize, Ashland Poetry Press); The Bodies We Were Loaned; and a chapbook, American Gothic, Take 2. Her work has appeared in magazines including POETRY and Ploughshares and in more than twenty-five anthologies.

The Children’s Wing

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