Skip to Content

Rosary for my Brace

By Sheila Black

The brace was metal, and it fastened around the ankles.

Outside in the street there was the beggar with elephantiasis; there was
the leper, the neighbor with eyes milky blind,

and in the book the child with the hand reaching out for the water.
Everyone spoke in code, everyone lied. There were the

invisible hospitals. There were the poor who could be scattered
like lice. There were the lanterns made of tin cans, which transformed

a light to lace. There was the sharp knife for the mangoes,
the machete for the coconut. Coffee trees grew in the garden,

red blood flesh with the hard bean underneath, green-tighter,
bitter, and the smell of the almond trees, and the carp

that swam under the fountains. There was Flora with the scar
bisecting her face, and the wide stitches along it

like a child would make. And the bottle of white liquor that
burned. And the doctor who smelled of tobacco. And the

boots with iron bars along the bottom. The leather boots that
smelled of sweat. And there was the doll that was like a

pretty girl. Golden hair, stiff limbs, and bird-button eyes.
And there was the world of the night and the moon and the

dog star. And the smell of jasmine and a frozen dust. A bicycle
riding along a moonlit track. Going nowhere, going to

the ocean. The beach where Einstein proved the Theory of
Relativity. Which meant there were many rooms and many

angles. Which meant that the clock, too, lied. That I could be here
and there at the same time. Except I couldn't, except I kept

falling. Back under the mosquito net. Back inside the moon tiger
And the house ticking, ticking. And the wire corset and the

steel brace whose function was to correct and straighten.

Added: Monday, July 7, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Sheila Black

Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (2017), and has co-edited two anthologies, Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (2011) and The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability (2017). In 2012, she received a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress. She holds a BA in French literature from Barnard College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana. She currently serves as Director of Development at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP.) Before that, she was the Executive Director of Gemini Ink, a literary arts center in San Antonio, Texas and served as Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at New Mexico State University Foundation.

Other poems by this author