Natalie Shapero

Winter Injury

Listen to Natalie Shapero read her piece:

Burn from a worsted rug that will not display
for a full day, welcome home. All I have coming in this
world is a joke that hits me later. I was ever the hampered
child, doting on what could not feel, unwilling to walk
on stairs that creaked for fear it hurt the house.
I never knew a thing about crying out, when to come running,
when to run. How, as with the lowing of
a simpler species, pain is the body’s way of making meaning.
My old love handled me hard and I thought nothing.

Yesterday I happened across a killed cat on the road.
Someone had hit it. It was then I wondered: could that be me?
Am I that cat, cut down from the world
for hours now, oblivious, seeing myself only
as a witness? I went to touch the body but was afraid,
afraid of my own body and what disease I carry
in death. I remembered meeting a child at a funeral.
She could recite all the times an animal
escaped from a zoo enclosure. I remembered I am no cat,
hardly wild as to require a wall, but instead a bird dog falling
in snow, splaying, pulling up, bearing in
my mouth some little trauma like a pheasant, blood
in the feathers and me, bred never to break the skin.

Again I resolve to move. A woman lists
a near room in a floor-through with piano. I have no use
for any box of hammers, but still I reply, having been raised
as though in a family of weavers, where it falls
on the smallest ones to watch for faults. The young
among us traffic in the ragged, dinner sonatinas
seldom the rage. My old love handled me hard. I let it happen.
The songs I like are mostly swears and clapping.

Natalie Shapero is the author of No Object (Saturnalia, 2013). She writes and teaches at Kenyon College, where she is a Kenyon Review Fellow.