He says when the bus is late, when the TV
show is canceled, when a fascist is elected,
when the WiFi’s bad. That’s so lame! I say
rubbernecking my own body in the bath
room mirror. See, every time lame comes
out a mouth it doesn’t belong in, my cane
hand itches, my bum-knee cracks, my tongue’s
limp gets worse. Some days it’s so bedridden
in the bottom of my jaw, it can’t stand up
for itself. Fumbles a fuck you, trips over its
own etymology, when all I want to ask is Why
do you keep dragging my body into this? When
I want to ask, Did you know how this slur
feathered its way into language? By way of lame
duck, whose own wings sever it from the flock
& make it perfect prey. I want to ask How long
have you been naming us by our dead? Baby
-booked your broken from the textbooks of our
anatomy? A car limped along the freeway,
a child crippled by their mother’s baleful stare.
Before I could accept this body’s fractures,
I had to unlearn lame as the first breath of
lament. I’m still learning not to let a stranger speak
me into a funeral, an elegy in orthodox slang.
My dad used to tell me this old riddle: What
value is there in a lame horse that cannot gallop?
A bullet & whatever a butcher can make of it.
torrin a. greathouse is a transgender cripple-punk, MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota, & assistant editor of The Shallow Ends. Their work is published in POETRY, Ploughshares, & The Kenyon Review. Her debut collection Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in December 2020.
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