Kenneth E. Harrison, Jr.
Three Scenes the Voice Can See

i. Daughter

Designated myself to bathe him                     bruises surfacing under my dress

to hurt is to remember, he said                      ashamed of his nakedness

his body bore through its living                      having rebuckled his calfskin belt

after he shoved me to the ground                  branching out, as the river

to identify not even his daughter                    I would not cry, imagined myself

among the V of geese overhead                    or stores gone up last year

as light shone through a leaf                         away from the sickle he carried

he spoke from beneath a dry tongue             lowered himself, water lifting

not a trace of the father I curse                    images his thoughts cannot divine—

ii. Wife

An inward resolution to be good                    nights come to a motel room

he reentered, smelled of Vitalis                     to say nothing about

to not set him off toward                              gone down on another trucker

or some traveling salesman                          a surface that rages after

closing the centerfold he needs                     who in the end gazed away

couldn’t bring himself to kiss                         laid at the head of the mattress

to help him come                                         that understanding between men

to get right down to things sought                  aching not but for him

moments the bed shook missing                    clothes slid onto stranger floors—

iii. Mother

What it means to see my son                        taken flight from his wits

stared past himself, disregarded                   at the foot of a mountain’s

soft rise, a musical rest                                moans a barn owl, perched

above his own knowing                                below the moon he knows

rehearses the words                                    having clawed at the paneling

brushed past sleeping horses                       he’s already said to her

taking ruin for granted                                 he said, the tremor of his hands

felt compelled to do so, reached                   as I have, married who I am not

where I’ll always be spilled                          across waiting room tables—