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Bruises


ISSUE:  Summer 1978

    I haven’t seen your bruise: I don’t have to. It’s four
    inches long by an inch wide, a ragged welt in the
    middle (raised, crusted), then purple veined red. At
    the outer edge of the bruise, there is a blue halo fading
    toward skin tones.

The anthracite near Scranton burns underground,
    little wisps of smoke on the burnt grass.
    The rivers run acid,

Once I found a peach bruised from the middle outward,
    only the skin clear.
    That was at Lock Haven.

In Williamsport, it’s the fire lane,
    high tension lines (sutures)
    stapled to the sore wing of a mountain.

We grew up without bruises, Helen and I;
    poison ivy, of course, and bug bites scratched open,
    but nothing that darkened or festered.

Yet, lovely and torn,
    all of Pennsylvania ached
    while we raced from rock ledge to rock ledge.

My mother bruised leaning on cobwebs:
    a touch,
    and her skin turned bluer than coal smoke.

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