“My Mother in Shock”

Listen to David Baker reading this poem.

The sound was too low-pitched to be singing
or a baby—too far off through the woods.

Stretched on the bottommost step of her porch,
she looked like she’d been here all day, pulling

weeds from the walk, reading her mysteries.
But when I saw her blouse brightened with tears

and both feet twisted, already swollen,
I knew her good neighbor had called the squad—

one ankle plainly broken, the other
so bad the skin bulged, almost cut, with bone.

Nearly forty years and this the first time
I had cursed in front of her. Jesus Christ!

How long have you been here? Wait, she said.
The hummingbirds are back in the coral bells.