RIB


I wrung her out of me prematurely
unwrapped her the way I would a present
tearing at her skin and flinging it away
to wallow in her withered innocence,
and she punished me with 13 years
of bitter blunt curse
before she deliquesced and retrogressed.
The next time was easier.
Intemperate speech replaced
that solid, stolid rib, and she
allowed herself to be born
the way a storm allows the sky to be nurturing
but the shallow puddles she formed
on dusty ill-used roads
evaporated halfheartedly,
and I was left stranded in my heavy rainboots.
I took the long way to work this morning
I stopped the car
outside the new hospital
spilled my coffee on the rough gravel ground
to read the grinds
at the bottom of my cup
confronting her drying face in the
muddy water.

--Nickolas Hoffman
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