Salt has curative power, a cleansing
burn for infection before it spreads
or mutates into a boil. A boiling sore
is animate, says what’s cooking inside before
skin breaks and the proof comes out.
Even now, there are those who must rely
on salt, like the pregnant woman who
burnt her arm ironing. It was deep, bone-deep,
and as each layer of flesh reformed,
she had to scrape and retreat, a going back,
but not far enough back to change
what fortune dealt her. Becoming a mother
wasn’t supposed to be like this—all messy
and full of pus. It was her hope to stack wishes
like terrycloth sleepers in the closet, to ignore
birth stories, like the one shared by a woman from work
who gave birth so long ago her hallway was lined
with bearded sons in portraits by Olan Mills. The pain
is nothing, she says. The pain is forgotten, even
the sweat and the puffing that stalls the inevitable
until the doctor says to go ahead and push. She denies
pain to others, scrubs memory until it fades, an echo
to the scrunched-up raging face that also fades
into the pale silence of a sleeping child, her cure.
George Brett’s Teeth
Out in left field, he waits for his close-up, his chance to stretch muscle and reach
for the ball or passing cloud.
Grass the bluest sky
that flash of white against tan
the ball in his glove
It’s his moment, and as the Yankee rounds the bases all eyes move to the boy in the back. The ball lands in his glove with a satisfying thwack and the inning’s over. No score. He looks a little dumb: blond, tan, game for whatever baseball has to give.
The gaptooth smile
the puff of dust from third plate
marks another out
Freddie Patek owned third base then and stole home on a local carpet commercial, playing the spunky little guy who could. A ballplayer could do no more, at least until Brett.
The teeth glow a smile
that leaps from the camera
like a warning sign
And soon Patek wants to retire, no really he does. Brett bought his first house on Wornall Avenue, and the girls from Southwest High would cluster in front and giggle 24/7. He made playing the field even more of a baseball metaphor, but not with them. No scandals for Brett except the usual: bad investments, temper, pine tar, Billy Martin.
His teeth his refuge
they gleamed him through the rough spots
even in anger
“Right now I’m swinging the bat as good as I ever have.” He smiles and that season, as he chased .400 down, his teeth give a benediction.