There’s an armless man on a hill
eating a candy bar and we wonder
which war, what factory machine.
Looks like his shoulder’s gone too.
Looks like the sky is a blue curtain
closing in on him. There’s a cloud
gliding into his rib. There’s his hand
rising to his mouth, teeth grinding
chocolate, the gift of sugar his lone
hand keeps delivering to his mouth.
Whatever happened, he’s moved on,
wakes, showers and buttons his shirt
by himself, his hand a swan pecking
down his chest. Wakes from a dream
where his missing arm flies into
his sleeve to pay his body a visit.
Wakes and buttons down and buys
a candy bar at the store. Damage
makes a notch on us all, with some
another notch. With some it steadies
the chisel and brings the hammer
down quick, brings a lesson on loss.
Blades take fingers. A tractor makes
a girl say goodbye to her footprints.
As for the armless man on the hill,
looks like the candy bar’s gone.
He looks like a sculpture, standing
up there with a hand on his waist:
a general waiting for the enemy,
hiding his saber behind his back.
David Hernandez’s first collection, A House Waiting for Music, was published by Tupelo Press in 2003. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Southern Review, Tri-Quarterly, Indiana Review, Epoch, Mississippi Review, and Quarterly West. Visit his website at www.davidahernandez.com. (4/2004)