The Poet at Seven
Squalid and stinking of necrosis, my youth
bursts with a little, wild shriek past the
sluice gates of sleep & offers me a bangled
green hand. She tugs at my sleeve, whines.
It’s hungry. She’s hungry, I correct myself.
So, I take her to Joe’s, buy her a foot-long
hoagie and a bag of chips. She savors the
day-old bread, stares at me like I’m some
guardian angel. Stop it, I want
to say, it’s only a sandwich.
Still, the little beast tugs at my sleeves,
whines. It needs me. She needs me. I turn
away, & with a warrior’s cry, she swipes the
chips from the shelves, hurls a hunk of
honey-smoked ham at the cash register,
kicks the deli glass until it shatters.
“Whose child is this?” Yells the deli man.
“I don’t know,” I repeat. The little monster
begins to cry, tears pouring freely from
her big, guilt-ridden
eyes. I look away.
The deli man curses at us & slams the door
shut when he leaves. She tugs at my sleeves,
whines. What do you want now? Money?
I grab a knife from the meat counter & begin
to slash the diseased, green tissue from her
limbs, savoring in each cut that falls lifeless
to the linoleum floor. The term for this, I
tell her between screams, is debridement.
She struggles, but I know what’s best
for her now, I’m the adult.
Blue and clammy, she falls down in the fetal
position at my feet. I hack off my own head &
lie next to her. No. I reach down & begin to bind
her long, thin limbs to stop the bleeding.
I wrap her in gauze, bandages, paper napkins,
anything to keep the marred world from
infecting her again. Slowly, her breathing
becomes regular. I wrap my bloodied hands
around hers & in the morning
change her bandages.
Alexandra Thompson is a freelance writer/editor currently working out of Philadelphia, PA. Her work has been published in various magazines, blogs, and other publications both in print and online. She is a founding member of Temple Novelists’ Review, and recently won the Anselm Hollo Graduate Fellowship Award at Naropa University for innovative writing.