He’s alive, but halved, on a plank–
head, torso and muscled arms
wheeling down the train platform
to the top of the stairs,
and I stop in my tracks
midway through some rumination
that’s instantly replaced by one
about humans made in God’s own image.
I imagine the workbench abandoned
in the middle of the job,
some more cursed than others,
forced to eat dust,
denied the chance to run.
I reverse my steps,
read a billboard, wait till it’s safe: he’s gone.
Still, my legs quiver
on the same steep flight of steel steps
he bumped or slid or rode down
a moment ago, transporting himself
to the next plane, the broken world–
In marble halls, I’ve admired
the busts of emperors, larger than life
with their smashed noses and missing limbs.
I know a black king
glides by now on ball bearings,
past sidewalk crowds that part in two.
Originally appeared in Dogwood Volume 5: 2005