Donald Levin


Waking after a troubled sleep
to feel her fine-boned face twisted,
the corner of her mouth pulled much

too far to the right, she rises
for a frightened glance in the
bathroom mirror that reveals her

fierce grimace haloed by a wild
mane of morning hair, her joyless grin
reflecting the angry spasm

of her mother's heart.  A washcloth
soaked with heat fails to ease the cramp.
Patting dry her curled cheek, she

resigns her grim reflection (the
body is a cruel container)
and as on a thousand mornings

before, bends to her single true
duty.  She shakes the shoulder of
her sleeping stunted son -- who, once

awake, seeing the new angle
of his mother's face, raises
a hand as if to straighten its

terrible twist. She intercepts
the stubby fingers with her own
long hands and kisses each blunted

tip, knowing, as she presses her
chin to his forehead's dome, he now
goes even less safely through his days.

Date of Birth: September 21, 1949
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Occupation: Associate professor of English, Marygrove College / Editor of The Maxis Review
Publications: Red Rock Review, Ohio Renaissance Review, The Metro Times, Delirium Journal
Books: The House of Grins (1992)

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