Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 18 . . .

our lady of perpetual contusions

     by Nielle Norton Buswell

we couldn’t figure out what she saw in him:

slope-shouldered, slope-hoped,

those hands that hung loose from thick arms,

huge but soft, like loaves of bread but heavy

like something unsaid and sometimes

you’d see them catch and lock in fists

when he looked at her too long, got caught.

and the way he looked at her—

like a man held two inches under

the water’s surface. trouble.

she was maybe lonely, no matter

how busy we kept her, that mind of hers

off fishing, her body sipping coffee

or under a hair dryer or trying on shoes

while her mind floated on hazardous currents

bobbing and drifting downstream.

so they married. a beautiful cake, sugar roses

and ribbons that flowed down the columns.

on top, a bell, a pair of birds.

we watched her reflexes improve.

sometimes her eyes weren’t eyes

but shadows, fast shadows outrunning

what might be a memory. her arms

broke out in fingerprints, every day

she grew more opaque. eight years later

when whatever was in him gave out,

the burial shocked her back to earth, to us.

what was it, what of him was love we had to know.

his hands, her voice sank low, oh, those hands of his.


Nielle Norton Buswell lives in rural Connecticut with her two children and a compulsive writing habit. Her poems have appeared in The Externalist.


© 2010 Nielle Norton Buswell