MARY LOU BUSCHI
I have a scar, thick rope of skin
with stitch marks where the
flesh was sewn back together
after a metal fence scored and pulled
my thigh apart. I was 15, running
away from a man with a rifle
loaded(he claimed). We were pool
hopping, swimming home,
My friend and I jumped
without knowing how deep or far
the bushes would fall.
The air sucked out through the shell
of our lungs; what was up, what was down,
he held the gun on his hip, “Come out or I’ll shoot.”
All but one of us flying through manicured shrubs,
all but one who sat shivering, told to disrobe, told
the police will come.
Orange veil of light sliding
slowly up and down.
It was a gaping hole, big enough for a fist.
In the dark it looked like a purple bruise,
so deep it wasn’t bleeding
until I started to run.
I was stitched while my father watched.
The surgeon examining the sides of the laceration,
for a purchase of skin to pull and sew shut.
The scar felt tight for years, a yard missing from my inner thigh,
the chasm we’d never discuss, while he, the one
who didn’t make it, climbed inside the furious oscillation
of my bedroom fan, both of us cut to ribbons.
He was shown to us in Biology class,
most likely a Chinese soldier.
The head was dry and wrapped in parchment,
kept in the closet between two classrooms,
band-sawed in half, so you could open it
like a hinged box or a locket.
The first symptoms of asphyxiation, a loss of power,
flashes of light, ringing in the ears.
If it had been a gun shot wound, the lead gliding past
the hair and skin, an opening upbraided and back rimmed
but it wasn’t.
I held his cheeks turned wooden in my palms,
touched the torn skin where a red piece of rope remained,
his lids scarred shut.
As it was passed from hand to hand,
Mrs. Stoutman, the teacher, hummed, 'Too bad, so sad,
Mr. Peking man. Too bad, so sad’
Students still argue about the head’s existence,
but I held it. Until this day, I had forgoten about him,
forgotten I was complicit, his countenance, a dissolving hologram.
Too bad, so sad, Mr. Peking man.
We learned nothing about anatomy that day,
your cranium was an abyss, a suburban gym
for each one of us to climb inside.
Mary Lou Buschi’s collections of poetry include Awful Baby (2015), Tight Wire, chapbook (2016), Ukiyo-e, chapbook (2014), and The Spell of Coming (or Going), chapbook (2013). Mary Lou’s poems have appeared in many journals such as Radar, Willow Springs, Thrush, The Laurel Review, Field, among others.