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Henry Hart

(for my son)

I bend a coat-hanger in a ring,
wind it with duct tape, tighten wire
around sprigs of fir and holly.
Thorns dot my hands with blood.
“This is how you do it,” I tell my son.
“Clockwise—until you circle back
to the beginning.”

Last December, a plastic surgeon failed
to aspirate a lump
beneath his eye. An MRI showed
a small barbell
bulging between nose and cheekbone.
A doctor told us to drive
to the children’s hospital at dawn.

Today, a neighbor shouts at his cell phone
about the death of taxes.
His voice hangs like smoke
beneath the moon’s bone ring
in the cold blue sky. My hands grow pale
as the bald heads
of children at the cancer clinic.

“How do you spell epithelioid hemangioma?”
my son asks. “I need to write
about odd numbers for a college app. Remember—
my tumor was the 21st
ever recorded.” I can’t stop shivering
as I swipe my phone for the surgeon’s email
with the X-Rayed skull and ring of bone screws.


The TV reporter never explained why
he’d trekked from Guatemala to Holland
Michigan with two daughters
or why he’d left the blueberry farm early
one evening to fish in a storm.

A camera panned from an eroded bluff
to a man in plaid pants hitting golf balls
from the lawn by a white-brick mansion
toward a metal row-boat
crushed against a new sea-wall.

The reporter said even experts
didn’t know why the lake kept rising,
uprooting trees and decks, forcing
residents to jack up their cottages
and haul them to higher ground.

Later, salvaging washed-up boards
from shallows, I found a life jacket
snagged on a jetty post,
overheard kids from the Bible camp
chant to a beach fire: Jesus saves!

Jesus saves from the cross to the grave!
Wind tossed their words like sparks
over breaking surf. An American flag
flapped on a crane boom.
A Coast Guard helicopter zigzagged

up the shore, its light polishing waves
silver as it searched for bodies.
The story about the migrant worker
lasted three nights on the evening news.
In the end, nobody found the body.

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