Lightning Rod

— Barbara Saxton

Your first light from her eyes.
your first mission to spare her
the pains of her world. Your head
smooth and bald, you danced drugged
down the long birth canal. Perfect baby, you cooed,
smiled and whistled before you were ready.

When he came after her, the light drew you,
her child, to her side of each battle. Small avenging angel,
you seemed bred to take blows
for her sake, dark bruises obscured
by your clothing and pride.

Barely fifteen, you were lured by the light
down a four a.m. hallway to find her sprawled cold,
motionless on a tiled bathroom floor. Only the light knows
what made you awaken, or how you were able
to dial 911, calmly murmuring: We need some help.
My mom’s swallowed some pills.

Fast forward to lifting a different phone
from its cradle, hearing him try to break down
her door with a hammer. You fumble for car keys,
get her out, bring her home. Later, you help her sign
papers to end fifty-one years of
miserable marriage.

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