Measuring Up

It wasn’t socks missing from his feet,
not elbow cloth unraveled unilaterally,
not equal displacement of chin and brow,
nor the eye that sat a bit lower on the right,
it was his knuckle that made me weep,
clove corners gone wayside, like minuscule meat
hooks clawed away bits of him each shift he made,
invisible a timeliness unfurled. It was his muscle
torn through, festering, the prosthetic hand, finger-
width dismay all across his attempted grin, left
there just like that, for anyone to see—it was his mercy.
In the end we’re rarely beautiful, mostly placed
away from compromising situations into poses
offsetting what has become of us in some gawker’s
unnerving eyes. Yet, he was, is, still here in mine,
and I’m human because of it. Maybe only. Maybe.

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, "Measuring Up" from Streaming. Copyright © 2014 by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press,
Source: Streaming (Coffee House Press, 2014)
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