Making Right

Hope Henderson

Even when the good drug 
pushed through
the tubing and needle 
and his writhing
body finally unbuckled

Even when the quills 
had been extracted 
from the spongy snout
of the brown dog
and her whimpering ceased

I was certain, as a child, 
that every pain was, 
in some way, eternal

I thought mostly of my mother
and those who had hurt her: 
her brother, my father, 
the new suitor 
with the beard and fur

And sometimes of my own pain
which hung heavy
from my child body like 
my mother's evening gown—
the ridiculous, black length of it 
pooling at my feet. . . .

Years later
I rise from a bed not mine
thighs damp from a man not mine
and walk home 

April sun warms 
my neck and face
orange poppy blossoms 
loll on their stems

In love
I am a criminal:
I finally deserve it—

Every unending cry, 
the whole cacophony

The world is, at last, 
my rightful home