The Lion At the Gate

by Amy Sailer 

My brother and I played at invalids- sparred each surgery with a stitch or broken bone, kept each cast and eye patch for conversation. Our toybox quickly filled. My mother told me, years later, the neighbors were appalled. I remember Mabel, who died in a nursing home at age ninety-nine, stalked the motion of our Radio Flyer wagon with arthritic eyes and licked her teeth, plaquednmin tobacco I mistook for Werther’s caramel. I wondered if she wore underwear beneath her cotton dress, as it looked as pellucid as the gown from the hospital that I had to wear without underwear, and the air condition touched me in ways I had been warned against. I doubt she ever joked with surgeons, sloshed in anesthesia, as the operating table seemed to revolve around the edge of a regulation bad pan, its pee-slicked tin. Her fingers spread over her rocker’s armrests, pawing them, like the lion statuettes who sit before the courthouse. Founded to the porch the past fifty years. Married at nineteen and widowed at twenty-three. They say some scars never heal, but I know hers folded neatly into wrinkles. When I explained that it took a week for my tongue to weld itself back after I bit through it in the play zone of Chuck’E’Cheese, she said I should be more careful, because the tongue is the fastest muscle to heal.

Amy Sailer graduated from VCU with dual degrees in English and Art History in 2013. She is a first year poetry MFA student at Western Michigan University and reads for the journal Third Coast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *