Thalidomide

SOME YOUNGER POETS

by Max Phillips
The chicken angel hovering over my birth
had early taught me all the smallest harms.
I screamed to have the tiny things cut off.
My mother said, “We can’t. Those are your arms.”
I dream to see her. dry now, on a couch,
turned from me. At seven, my birthday wish
was an aquarium. I hear her voice
rise darkly now through tanks of golden fish.
When older, on my uncle’s farm, I walked
with animals, observed their flightless grace.
My uncle, on a ladder, held a fist
of silver nails before his flaming face.
Blue as the pills my mother took for me,
the car that took me off to better things
had darker rising windows than the sea
and leather armrests. Nowadays, my wings
fold tighter, further backward into me.
I speak with doctors. Underneath the blade
I sleep akimbo. Later, swathed in white,
my partial form is ushered into shade.
I live in shade like water. Now the farm
is burned. My goldfish hang extinct in air.
And I, with the small fins disuse has grown,
swim forward, to a body quite my own.