He was the source of all my scars:
forehead, knee, anklebone.
Three years ahead in the game,
our world was slaps and fists,
knuckles driven into thighs,
wrists seared by Indian burns.
I’d seen his car crashes,
taken panicked calls in the dawn.
But he was always fine in the end.
Mother said coolant gnawed away his skin,
ran into his boot when the air bubble blew
in the car factory, pooled and chewed.
Third-degree right down to the bone,
and a trail of speckle-scars,
burns arcing across his back.
I imagined the heel as scooped out:
a ball of flesh, neatly rounded, removed
and pulsing, a hollow, bloodless cavity.
But I couldn’t; I wouldn’t creep down
the basement stairs
to see those plastic sheets,
his body turned by nurses.
I got drunk on disinfectant;
studied bandages brought to the kitchen,
oily and orange; eavesdropped
when he shifted his weight
on the pull-out couch,
watching cartoons alone.

Loren Walker was born in Ontario, Canada, and now lives and works in Rhode Island. She holds a Master of Arts in writing and poetry, and published her first novel EKO in 2016. Her website is