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Calcium by Calcium



State University of New York at Brockport, ’16
2016 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Honorable Mention

I carved the ABC’s on a stone
with the gristle from my nails.
When you are a man my father
said you will learn the difference
between bone and everything
. Since then, I’ve hitched
my fingers to each person
that looks like him: half-an-ear,
crevices of deep red on the neck,
patchwork thick-to-thin hair.
Piece by piece I reassembled his
figure. Enough to remind myself
that I’m still a boy. I’m naked
in the wood behind the house.
I hitchhike down the road and walk
back. The scar on my wrist
is from a lighter—I was lighter
than him, from the weight of our
spines to the count of our ribs.
The birch seed, he explained
lacing my boots, is buried
in its grave, waiting for new life.
So don’t worry—if I die, watch
the land, I’ll be there.
All I can
do is wait. Wait for his fingernails
to grow back, for his hands to be
whole again. And when they burn
a hole through the dirt where I
can touch—I will pull him up.

Christian Wessels is a poet and translator from New York. He is a senior at the College at Brockport, where he is the student manager of the Brockport Writers Forum.