by Adam Tavel
for my son James
The boy with his shattered skull stitched
runs his fingers over the bridge
Van Gogh’s rainbow impasto arcs
across the Arles. Water ripples
away from washerwomen stooped,
amorphous, scrubbing on the shore.
Hung beside the receptionist,
the print quakes from the steady thud
a woman knocks with her helmet.
She bangs her wince into the wall
to drown the child inside her moan.
We terrible hosannas tick
our turns to take the corridor.
River of squeaks, river of doors,
a wheelchair’s grease streaks down the floor.
Above his jigsaw crown, in spring’s
sumptuous light, the boy’s shirtsleeve
swirls golden cattails out of dust.
Adam Tavel’s third poetry collection, Catafalque, won the 2017 Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). He is also the author of The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), winner of the Permafrost Book Prize in Poetry. His recent poems appear in Verse Daily, Willow Springs, Crazyhorse, Copper Nickel, Pleiades, 32 Poems, Third Coast, and Arts & Letters, among others. You can find him online at http://adamtavel.com/.