"Boy on Crutches"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 19 2011 6:54 AM

"Boy on Crutches"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Terese Svoboda read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

Every third car in the car lot shines silver-with-roof-rack.

You press your goose caller, but nothing honks back.

It could be broken, or the car could be on 6. Wait here,

you tell him, his tick-thud echoing after

your every wrong turn. You ran two stops

to make his appointment, then you abandoned ship

willy-nilly, the waves licking, the waves

of concrete rising as the elevator misbehaved.

Every pew is filled on 6, all is silence.

No attendant, with godlike countenance,

just a family plodding with such purpose toward you,

asmirk at your obvious idiocy. You

go back for the boy, but it's the wrong bank.

Did he wander out or go game-deaf? Thank

god, on 9 the key fits, 9 is the 6, comics face down

in the back seat. You cruise 3 for him, done

with panic, your head thrust so far out of the car you almost hit

honks, and you graze a post. You sit

in park, you pen the stall number on your palm, you call and call:

Only columns answer. He's at the exit where you look last, al-

most crying, most un-dad-like, slipping, with blinks,

the ticket into the quick mouth for its automatic thanks.

.

Terese Svoboda's most recent book of poetry is her fifth, Weapons Grade.