Today’s poem shows us the body after it survives harm, and how we can find our true selves in the wreckage of our lives.
Scavenged by Dion O’Reilly
… what becomes
of us once we’ve been torn apart
and returned to our future…
When I was nineteen, a flame clung to my back,
ate me to the spine. Torch-lit and alone,
I ran through the house, a contagion
cindering couches and carpets.
Flayed, my fingertips peeled back
to the nail beds. My spongy tissues touched air,
light, and the steel cot where they took me.
Each day, they peeled me
like Velcro from my sheets,
left bits of my meat there.
Lowered me into Betadine,
scrubbed me to screams—
that became my history. Scavenged
by the curious. They see my twisted fingers
and are hungry for the tale.
I’ve done the same, stared
at a leg’s nubbed end, wanted to touch it,
feel the cut bone under the knob,
hear its shrapnel story. I wanted to know
how that man was alive, arms glistening
playing basketball from a high-tech chair,
making his shots.
The body’s scarred terrain becomes
consecrated field. We gather to pick
through the pieces that remain—
an ear hanging from its hinge of skin,
diamond stud in the lobe, ring finger
shining with its promise-band of gold.