Comparing Scars

Christine Gelineau

for my son, on his leaving home

You took the exit that left my abdomen
smiling wryly as the Mona Lisa. I know
what she’s thinking. Life leaves its mark.

At twelve, that accident left
your leg cored out to bone, the surgeon
plucking gravel from the periosteum

while I held your eyes in mine and you
wrung and bundled the phalanges
of my hand like talismanic sticks.

I never thought to ask, as the intern finally asked,
Couldn’t he have morphine? To each life
its agonies.

At the age you are now, I was motherless,
buoyant with the luck of my abandonment,
fingering the scars of my own choices.

Your scars are all your own now.
I take comfort where I can:
the rain, and how the lawn’s emptied

expanse erupts in parasols
of fungus, the earth’s unforgotten
memory of forest.

Christine Gelineau’s poems have appeared in Green Mountains Review, American Literary Review, Seneca Review, The American Voice, Kalliope, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Paterson Literary Review, Kansas Quarterly, The Florida Review, and other journals. She also has published a chapbook, North American Song (FootHills Publishing, 2001). Gelineau lives on a farm in upstate New York and teaches at Binghamton University where she is Assistant Director of the Creative Writing Program and Coordinator of the Reader’s Series.