Ann Keiffer

Little Bone

I am taking a shortcut
down an embankment
to a parking lot,
a shortcut of
I do not realize
are s et at
o dd, unp re
dic ta ble
spaces and angles.

Suddenly my toe/shoe/foot
catches, and I am catapulted
headlong, falling forward,
hard, fast…

I hit the parking lot grit still
falling, stagger-running,
trying to keep my feet.
Falling faster than I can run,
I go down,
smash into the ground,
all the speed- and blunt-force
impact taken on the tips of
the fingers of my left hand.

I don’t see my fingers bend
grotesquely backwards
at the middle knuckles,
but there is a buckling
sound and sensation
that everything in me
registers as “not right.”

Coming to myself on the pavement,
gathering my limbs,
unaware of any other injuries,
I hold up my alien left hand,
already turning purple, swelling,
my fingers in strange shapes
I have never seen before.
Dazed, I turn my hand over.
The flesh on the underside
of my knuckles is split open,
wounds gaping, bleeding.

From its nest of red flesh,
half of a little white
bone peeps out at me.
More than fear,
more than pain,
I feel such love for
the little white bone
so shy, not meant to be seen.

Two fractures, a dislocation,
an ambulance, ER, x-rays,
Frankenstein stitches and
a cast later, it is the little
white bone I carry in my mind,
that moment I glimpsed into
the secret life of the body.

Slowly, day by day, my wounds
fill in, raw, tender, pink, peeling.
Within, the tendons, nerves,
and little white bones are coming
together as I work at stretching,
straightening, closing and opening
my hand back to near-normal again.

One night in those fleeting, floating
moments just before sleep,
the little white bone comes
to me again, in memory.
The image of the little white bone,
the wonderment I feel for the body,
the deep mystery of healing,
move me so, I am overcome
with a kind of ecstasy.
In the dark, filled with love
flowing in and out, I kiss
my own hand, each finger.
Especially the one where
the little white bone repairs.


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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