This living hand, now worn to bone, now bent
to steel, would, if it were cold and in
the icy silence of the tomb, so haunt the days
and chill the dreaming nights that science made
(taking an hour from the end of the day
and stitching it to the evening, and saying
time was saved), that thou would wish
thine own heart dry of blood: so my heart
at the edge of the red-burnished wood,
so this hand would be better than any heart,
love stitched on the lace of my veins,
so in those veins my life might stream again.
And so be conscience-calmed. And bend.
I hold it toward you, the hand in the hand.
The machinery of the garbage truck delights me,
the whine of the gears, the strain of the engine
toward the next stop in the alley. I stand there,
amazed at the way the men who follow that truck
allow it to perform, the careful clicking thread
of the cable that lifts my refuse to the open cavity
that accepts all, that takes and takes again
without a single complaint. My left leg aches.
The spots on my hands are my mother’s hands.
What’s left of my hair is grey. I toss the bags
into the can. When the truck stops to gather
what’s left, I gape in wonder by the gate, strain
under the weight that holds me up, stagger.
About the Poet
Matt Cariello’s second book of poems, Talk, won the Lauria/Frasca Prize, and was published in the spring of 2019 by Bordighera Press. His first book, A Boat That Can Carry Two, was published in a bilingual edition in 2011. He’s had stories, poems and reviews published in Voices in Italian Americana, Ovunque Siamo, Poet Lore, Evening Street Review, Modern Haiku, Heron’s Nest, Daily Haiku, Frogpond, Ohioana, The Long Story, Indiana Review, Iron Horse Review, and The Journal, among others. Currently, he’s a senior lecturer in the English department at OSU in Columbus, Oh.