The Sick Boy

by janeeatonhamilton

 

The Sick Boy

Jane Eaton Hamilton

from Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes, 2014

 

The spot inside the sick boy’s brain was

invisible, it burrowed there pale as a tuber,

stubborn and engorged. His hair lifted

from his scalp like angel fuzz; his eyes

gleamed and struck us. Dumb and

wanting, we watched him teeter to the lip of the

nest, his skin traced blue with veins. Fledgling,

we thought, and gathered our children closer, under

shivering arms. The sick boy wanted Christmas

cards and he got thousands, maybe millions,

a Guiness record in any case, cards enough

to fill warehouses, from everywhere

in the world. There was his father, his mother,

his sister and brother, and there were all those cards,

and there was his brain cancer, growing like

a nightmare’s garden, spreading like a bleach spot

into September and death. We almost

knew something dangerous that glowed

the way an umbilicus will; we almost

saw reflections of silver in the mirror, but then

we didn’t. We only saw ourselves, lustrous

as poster paints, our terrible good luck.