Joseph Ross


The Universal Artificial Limb Company
crouches at the end
of a row of storefronts.
It waits on Wayne Avenue
at the end of a strip mall
whose other stores
are long since closed,
their windows covered
with brown paper and plywood,
like women draped in mourning veils.

Its marketing plan looks like modesty
which these days
does not really sell.

Its name, painted in clean
gold and black letters,
arcs across the front window,
announcing the ancient art
of remembering what has been

Meanwhile, Whole Foods and Starbucks
hover across the street
waiting, plotting, maybe even grinning,
rubbing their manicured hands together
under tasteful signs,
beside stacks of polished fruit
picked by people
who knew what it meant
to bend.

Next door, luxury condos
rise slowly, floor by floor,
a high-rise with the perfect posture
to look down at a store
not even sophisticated enough
to call its product prosthetics.

The Universal Artificial Limb Company
must be careful.
It tries to stay wary,
it tries to deflect the muscled arms
that would shove it aside
in favor of a market more whole,
more hip,
whose reach extends well beyond
the noble hope of healing
both members and memory.


Joseph Ross
directs the Writing Center at Carroll High School in Washington, DC. His writing has appeared in several anthologies and magazines, including: Poetic Voices Without Borders, DC Poets Against the War, Sojourners, and Hurricane Review.

Published in Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 2007.

To read more by this author:
Joseph Ross: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue
Joseph Ross: Floricanto Issue