By Erica Jong

This constant ache
is my leg’s message to me.
‘Hello. Hello. Hello.
You’re getting there,’ it says,
‘step by step.’

Legs aren’t stars
which sputter out
& go on gleaming anyway.
I’ve lived, of course,
with phantom limbs

but this fracture
doesn’t point to
amputation. No.
It hisses at something
much more final.

Skin lantern,
necklace of teeth,
the bones & sinews
are in revolt against us.
We keep them down

with little bribes:
vitamins, penicillin,
& now these pounds of plaster,
but they will bury us,
good Bolsheviks,

& know it.
So they’ve got time to bide.
Meanwhile: spread-eagle
on these crutches, a cripple
sucking the ground with rubber

nipples, or else a knight,
up to my ass in armor,
I limp & swing my way
across the street
& up the steps,

moving, here & now,
step by step,
towards the future,
that incurable

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