- I'm So Sorry
A needle broke in two and the blunt half slipped through my sock and into my sole. Nary a drop of blood, no splinter or bruise. Another ploy, said my mother, to claim me as your own. Don't you know, I am your one and only, don't you know? And off I limped and built a tiny shelf made of Kleenex into the heel of my Beatles shoe. The pain was okay, as long as I never went barefoot, or ever ever again wore patent leather party shoes. My foot was albumen after weeks of this, and began to smell. My mother made me wash and hunted down foot fungus gel, until one day she noticed a crimson streak from mid-heel to that knobby little knee. It was a water snake, a death crease, the crack I'd avoided on my walk to school. And lo, my mother's composure cracked. Soon we were in a race car, breaking all sorts of rules, my mother muttering, you fool, you big fool, though she reassured me with a pat, I'm not talking to you. I understood, but still felt foolish, as if I'd left the water running and now it overflowed. She extended her hand protectively as the car jolted to a stop. The doctor waited inside his doctor house with its roaring fire and rock candy in a medicine jar. He was cruel: How did this happen? An intelligent woman like you? Then thrust his hand into the fire and singed the tweezers blue. He rubbed vigorously with alcohol, and began to dig the needle out. By hand. No Novocaine. My only day off, he rued. Mother blushed, bright as a dodge ball. It was much more than I bargained for—the color of her love, mixed with shame.
Sarah Gorham is the author of three collections of poetry: The Cure, The Tension Zone, and Don't Go Back to Sleep. New poems and essays have been published in The Gettysburg Review, Poets & Writers, Prairie Schooner, Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, Southern Review, Shenandoah, and American Poetry Review. Gorham is president and editor-in-chief of Sarabande Books, located in Louisville, Kentucky.