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HALFWAY DECENT SINNERS Original Sin


Loudspeakers hurry me to First Aid—
my five year-old in his mother's arms.
Panic and pain pull at his eyebrows,
mouth, each an arch above an open tomb.

You know that face.
The one in Munch's The Scream,
hands covering ears to muffle horror.
The Vietnamese girl running naked
toward a camera, her body
immaculate a moment
before blisters and scars.

You've seen that face on all our children.
For my son, an escalator rail he didn't let go of—
or it didn't let go of him. Sobs clogging his throat,
a great breath locked inside.

When stings flash from fingers and palm
he turns over the thing gears have gnawed
to bone,
slowly raises his awful hand
as if beseeching me, or God,
or anyone who might care—
Please, may I be excused?

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