Offcourse Literary Journal

The Leg Shop, by Janet Buck.

We're sitting in five different rooms —
all of us dangling in wait
for the glass slipper of a limb
to be placed on the stump of a missing leg.
Old sockets and stray parts litter corners
too dark to comfort us — some man's foot is used
as a doorstop to leaven the odious weight.
No one says much as saws and grinders
hum through walls; vents fill stifled air
with scents of glue; finely crushed debris
coats our shabby clothes.
Some of us read to cradle our fears,
eyes locked down on the page
like a palm on the stick in a NASCAR race.

A few of us talk too loud, laugh to cause
a quick stampede for pity to disperse in dust.
I'd love to ponder and pick
horrible novels we've lived —
the ones with praying mantis eyes,
so I crutch down the hall, wait for a smile
to strip these tabby husks of doom.
I shake one woman's frail hand.
Meningitis ate her fingers,
everything below her thighs,
so her wedding ring hangs on a chain
around the flute of her neck.
Like it or not, we're bookends for grief.
We have been handed a nautical sense
that fathoms the thrust of a storm.

Like it or not, we aren't in the Louvre
with camera lenses poised
upon our sad remains.
These long and wide collective scars
are doilies of destiny wronged.
We've all died a little each day,
stooped in wrought iron chairs of doubt,
learned daily bread is often grain,
licked glaciers of anguish
and simply returned to search
for a sliver of Eastern light.

Janet Buck is a six-time Pushcart Nominee. Her poetry has recently appeared in Octavo, Poetry, Offcourse, The Pedestal Magazine, Facets Magazine, and hundreds of journals worldwide. This fall, her work is scheduled to appear in Wicked Alice, Kaleidowhirl, and 2River View. Beckoned By The Reckoning, Buck's third print collection of poetry, was recently released by PoetWorks Press. Her book "Tickets to a Closing Play" was reviewed in Offcourse Issue #17, Summer 2003, by Robert W. Greene.


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