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Scales

January 28, 2010

by Ron Czerwien

My father keeps shifting
positions, searching for some relief.
From my spare room he calls out
nearly every hour. Each time
I cradle his boney frame
we move together, by increments,
from head to foot and back again
on a rented hospital bed.
I feel his vertebra in the palm of my hand.

The tips of my fingers recall
every delicate bone lifted
from the open bellies of Northern Pike,
Blue Gills, Small Mouth Bass.
Scales on my face and chest,
I scrape the cutting board
with my bloody knife. A pile of entrails
and fish heads. Skeletons
with clinging bits of flesh.
I wrap everything in the local paper
and throw it as hard as I can
in the direction of a gully
slit from end to end by darkness.

At night I wake to his sighs
as the small hands of raccoons
peel back the yellowed newsprint
his skin has become. They run
his bones between their teeth.


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Ron Czerwien is the owner of Avol’s, a used and out-of-print bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin. His poems have appeared online in Moria, Shampoo, nth position, and other journals. The questions most frequently asked by his customers can be found here.

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  1. January 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Wow!

  2. Ron Czerwien
    February 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks, Sherry!

  3. Barbara LaMorticella
    February 23, 2010 at 2:44 am

    This is a fine poem. Tender, tender in its memory, completely unsentimental in the reflection of the harshness of death– and life.

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