I was seven, running across the ice
when I slipped and cracked my skull,
blood bursting like crimson novas
on the sidewalk while I dangled
from the frantic arms of a nun
sprinting towards the principal’s office.
They asked later if it hurt—the frosty
bite, the whole world flipped on its side,
then the long needle, the doctor’s
masked face and careful stitching,
searching for a face I recognized. I lied
as all boys must and said it didn’t, that
I did not cry fat tears when pain set in.
Nor did I mention that first moment,
weirdly quiet, when I got back up
and rejoined the end-of-recess line
just a little stunned, a strange
giddiness as within me something
began to rise, untangling its ancient
coils and lifting off the deep towards
the fresh bright crack,
the cerulean field and just above:
home, the gates wide open.