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Oct 2014
I've been cracking my knuckles since I was six,
but back then my bones were still practically cartilage.

My mother could only make me stop during dinner.
Her brass voice echoed through the house,
like the trumpets in a marching band on the Fourth of July.
(Although not as patriotic.)

My mother didn't know about all the times I cracked
my knuckles when I was by myself.

Sweet sixteen and the joints between my fingers still
crunched secretly under my skin and between
what was now developed into hard white bone.

I've only broken one bone in my entire life.

It was my nose during my homecoming soccer game,
senior year, under the lights and across the street
from the stone-cold brick building that housed
my Catholic education.

Soccer ***** have hit my stomach and my chest countless times,
leaving hexagonal imprints in scratchy blotches of red
over an empty envelope of acid and oxygen.

This time it hit me and I fell to the cold and frozen dirt,
my jersey conforming to the brown-green of roughened grass
and the blood from my nose providing contrast
and complement all at once.

Someone picked me up and I became conscious and self-conscious
that someone’s hands could touch my skin and
that someone’s hands could feel my body.

My hands hung off the sides of the stretcher I didn't need
(I thought it was crazy, all this fuss over a broken nose)
and they swung as I was carried, bringing blood
to my knuckles so that they could swell and expand.

My mother tripped over her questions
when she asked if I could
breathe or eat or speak or if my choking was cause for concern.

“B-b-baby don’t d-d-die,
I m-m-made rice and b-beans.
B-b-baby don’t d-d-die,
I m-m-made your f-f-f-f-favorite.”

You tied me in a robe and stuck a tube down my throat.
B-b-baby don’t d-d-die,
it’s your f-f-favorite.
GC
Written by
GC
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