I have carried
my stomach all the way from that day to this.
And for that I congratulate
For I carried it out of the burning house
like a barely
breathing child, carried it
like a burning house back and forth to
through a whole childhood of unhappy lunches,
and combination locks.
Carried it into the outfield with its own
number stitched on the back, stepped with it
up to the plate, protecting
from the wild, the sidearm, the lefty.
Carried it into junior
high hiding it
from the cruel eyes just looking
for a stomach like
mine, sat with it
like a god in the lap, genuflecting
in the back row of algebra.
Carried it all the way to California.
Carried it through doors that opened outward
and through doors that opened
and through doors that turned clockwise
Carried it into a marriage
and out still wearing my father-in-lawís
and my motherís disenchantment
round the mouth. Carried it
sail into barrooms, strip joints, filling it
boilermakers night after night,
careening home all blustery and
through the oily, vertiginous street.
Carried it into a
hospital one day
where they took it out and looked it over,
of it back and threw some of it out,
which explains the pained look but
not the twist
of forgiveness round my motherís mouth I still wear
at the beginning end of my alimentary canal
which Iíve carried from
that day to this nor once set down.
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