The Victory that’s Left

by Shaun Terry


My mother would play this trick on us,
and in her game,
the points of her fingernails
would turn into spiders’ feet,
and spiders would crawl up our backs,
turning us into wriggling, squirming worms.

Now, you’ve played the same game,
but taken it too far.
The spiders have built a little nest
between two ribs,
between the cracks of the collar
that’s meant to protect my heart;
the same heart that you trapped in your box
before you swallowed the key.

And now my heart beats in an odd rhythm,
but you can slurp back your norepinephrine
and do the same with it
that you did with the ashes of what was to be my life:
you can mix them with your cornflakes
on early mornings
when you go to care of those invalids.

So look at you:
you’ve finally won a carcass to hang with pride.
You destroyed a person
much like someone destroyed you,
and now someone’s life has been turned to tinders,
the remnants of which land
in some dark, reeking corner of some corporate grocer’s dumpster,
while you soak your pillow each night with the aftermath.

According to your dad’s logic,
I should never have given you clemency.
But I don’t blame you, really;
I wish I could help you, in fact, even after all this,
and even if I don’t want to talk to you any time in the next millennium.
I’d just love if you’d take your foot off my goddamn neck.