Tin Man

Chain and door lock

He is a knot
lashed to a lock
hasp snapped tight
as lips.
Planting himself at the edge of the room
he holds fast to the border
between thrust and withdrawal, steel bars clamped
across his chest.
Silence thuds out from the footing
where he has sunk
his fury
and pulses
through the planks of the floor.

It is impossible to know what someone else feels.
I know exactly what he feels.
The vise grip jaw is mine
writ small. The iced chassis, his
unfortunate inheritance.
I approach with a voice of WD40, the thin straw
laying a bead across the distance between us.
It takes its time leaching in along the thread
of his coil, feeling for tumblers
and any hint of give. I fold my arms
like the mouth of a spaniel
around him and trust in the unctuous
persistence of my proximity
until his grip slips loose
enough to push free.
 

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3 thoughts on “Tin Man”

  1. When our daughter was a baby,
    she’d sometimes cry and cry,

    raw-throated nightingale heavy
    on evening’s shoulders,

    no solace in the rocking lullaby,
    warm milk, blue velvet blanket,

    nor in the whispered words,
    the quiet shush we’d loose

    while pacing back and forth
    across the wooden floors.

    Until one night, by chance,
    we needed diapers,

    and my wife, as tired
    as I and needing, if not rest,

    at least another’s voice to soothe
    the small disquiet in her chest,

    lifted Morgan from the crib,
    bundled her against the cold,

    and together we walked out beneath
    the stars that pulsed

    against the winter’s crisp
    and piled into the car.

    And halfway to the store,
    heater blowing warm against our feet,

    we noticed the muffled
    wind that faintly buffeted the glass,

    the slapping, even rhythm
    of the concrete seams we crossed,

    and the silence—but for heavy breathing
    coming from the car seat in the back.

    “Nightingale” by Tony Morris

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