Man HoleThe boy must have done it late at night,
fuck-you-body-slam against the wall,
or hurled baseball trophy, impaled broom,
perhaps that old cliché, the fist—
in time for breakfast there it was—
emblem of some rage or hurt,
some disgrace, heartache even, mine, too, tacit,
shrugged off by his father: Typical, he said.
For months, then the better part of that year,
it gaped raw and torn. Every day coming down
to eat or leave, there, at the foot of the stairs
an unhealing venous ulcer, it was something
to ignore though impossible.
In the first days of January,
at Home Depot for rock salt,
I was the one who found a man and asked
what we needed. Nonplussed,
he took us to aisle 14.
I raised boys myself, he said.
At home, his father cut a clean square from the drywall with a razor,
removing the blasted center, and the boy
flattened the mesh panel with the expanse of his hand
but both lost interest after the first layer
or so of slathering joint compound
and so it became mine to fix.
Six layers for the hole to close,
six layers of my smoothing it on
like icing a cake before writing someone’s name,
then sanding with the finest paper I could find,
then waiting for the surface to dry completely
before starting it all again, and finally
painting the wall a new color, some deep
deep blue I liked: Ravine, Sanctuary, Adriatic.
I can’t recall. They don’t make it anymore.
In the right light I can see the apparition
of the patch beneath the paint, its lattice softly ridged.
No one seems to notice it but me—still,
I might have been more patient.
Word Riot, Barrelhouse, Sweet, Painted Bride Quarterly, Vestal Review, Alimentum, and Talking Writing.teaches English at the Wheeler School in Providence and lives in nearby Cranston, Rhode Island, with her family. Her essays and stories have appeared in such publications as