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Tag: David Hernandez

Falling but Frozen

By accident, mid-aisle, my heel

pressed against the paw of the service dog,

a bony softness as I

pivoted from one student desk to the next.

The black Labrador yelped

and something broke in me. No,

was broken already and snapped again.

No, was made whole

by memory: from modeling clay

I made a hollow ball,

pushed a toothpick inside, then

thumbed smooth the pinhole: hidden.

Here, I told my brother. Squeeze this.


Two students gasped.

One barred her fallen

open mouth with fingers.

The dog turned

away from me and curled beneath a desk

as if accustomed to hurt, the way his lowered tail

slowly swept the floor.

Swept, swept.



dotted the linoleum from living room to kitchen.

I made that constellation.


What Nietzsche said of human ache:

To live is to suffer, to survive is

to find some meaning in the suffering.

I forget and remember, it comes and lingers,

sliver of wood into

my brother’s shivering hand, his breaths

heavy, through the nose,

erratic, how it

lingers. And how my father

tended to the wound

at the sink, the faucet hissing

out water. And the way

my mother looked at me, her

How could you?


Beside my blind student I knelt, disclosed

what had occurred, that animal sound

he heard and turned to face,

his damaged eyes lifted

as if to see past

all seven floors honeycombed above us—and further

away, what is

beyond seeing, that first shattering

each visible thing carries

from Poetry Northwest 11.2 Winter & Spring 2017More by David Hernandez from the library

Copyright © David Hernandez
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.