August 2017

by Traci Cruey

Say Uncle

Background photograph by Carla CiuffoSay Uncle

His khaki pant was scrunched
up past his knee,
thick hair against a fat calf,
pale, my uncle wheezed a yarn of surgeries during a rare visit to his doublewide,

black lung coating his words,
mucus thick and deep in the back of his throat. Cough. Cough.
He spits the yellow fluid between red chubby cheeks and past thin lips into a napkin. Tales of his youth nestled between us, reminiscences
of a time when he was
Big Red going into the mines
rather than aging flesh who lives
in a chair. He presents his knee
as an example of his mortality
with swollen hands
that can no longer fist or squeeze
a thing, a parody of a knee,
like an alien trying to figure out human parts,
the cap protrudes to the right, bulging
where it shouldn’t, sinks and concaves
at the front. Pink lines and scars
mottle the skin and I just want him to put it away, cannot face the perversion, turn away
from the sound of the ticking clock,
his calm resolve, the proof
of my cowardice stamped

in the footprints leading out the door.

Photograph by Cory Johnson

Traci lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, where she writes, reads fairy tales, and avoids talking politics with her family.

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