SPLIT THIS ROCK: Poems of Provocation & Witness

Teri Ellen Cross



My mother tells me quickly not rushed but in one breath.
Your brother’s wheelchair rolled down the driveway. He fell.
His choice of curse words for this circumstance was a very quiet
oh shit. She reveals the details of his stitches in measured breaths
she’s in familiar territory now — they gave him fentanol, he’s not
eating, tells me, mommy it hurts, I’m keeping him out of school
for a few days.
Our conversation turns to standard fare—financial advice
lamentations about weight. The quiver having passed through us for now,
even the phone line’s static has subsided. The boy will be fine in time.
But the image makes laps in my brain. I see the curved black tongue
of the driveway, its mouth opening to the residential street. The eagerness
to spill my brother into some red Taurus’ unsuspecting bumper. The fear
that makes a raucous thirteen year-old boy whisper oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
How his rough hands must have fumbled for the brakes. Lap after lap
I see my brother captive as the chair hurtles over ground, toward
green and freedom from a mother’s constant worry.



Teri Ellen Cross holds an MFA in Poetry from American University. She was a Cave Canem fellow and her poems can be found in many anthologies including Bum Rush the Page: a Def Poetry Jam, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade, Growing Up Girl, and will be featured in the upcoming summer issue of Gargoyle and the Poetic Voices Without Borders 2 anthology. She lives in Silver Spring, MD with her husband, poet Hayes Davis.


Published in Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2008.

Read more by this author:
Teri Ellen Cross
Teri Ellen Cross: Intro to The Evolving City issue, Vol. 8, No. 4, Fall 2007

Teri Ellen Cross: Tenth Anniversary Issue