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Oceanside, CA

By Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Balancing on crutches in the shallows
near her mother, a girl missing her right lower leg
swings her body and falls, laughing.
Behind them, her father and brother play catch.
Up the beach, the incoming tide nibbles
a sleeping woman, another beer is opened.
A young veteran walks by with a high and tight
buzz cut and Semper Fi shoulder tattoo, his right leg
a prosthesis to mid-thigh. He approaches
the family, removes the prosthesis, and joins
the girl in the water. They lift shorn legs high
and smack them down. No one talks about the war.

Added: Wednesday, July 16, 2014  /  Mali's poem took Second Place in the Split This Rock 2010 Poetry Contest. We are grateful to Chris Abani, judge of the 2010 contest.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Marie-Elizabeth Mali lives in New York City. She is a co-curator of louderARTS: the Reading Series at Bar 13 Lounge and Page Meets Stage at the Bowery Poetry Club and is a poetry editor for TIFERET: A Journal of Spiritual Literature. Her work has appeared in Calyx, MiPOesias, and RATTLE, among others.

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