Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Achilles’ Heel

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I'm a pro at getting out splinters,
I told him as I gathered
the tweezers, a needle, a Band-Aid.
But before I even touched his foot
he started to cry.
It's only a splinter, I said.
It will only hurt a little.

But there was no splinter
in his foot. It was a
shard of glass buried deep.
Too deep for me to reach.

As we entered the doctor's office
I said, Behave better
than you did at home, no
carrying on -- you're
nine years old now
.

When the nurse came in
with a syringe, I saw
his lower lip curl, his eyes
close as he turned away.
But he quickly pinched
the bridge of his nose
so no tears would fall.

To numb the spot the doctor
stuck him over and over
where the glass shard throbbed
but he did not cry
even when he winced,
his face going white.

But I doubled over,
my ears ringing
as the doctor turned
her attention to me,
insisting I sit down.

I leaned forward,
resting my forehead
on the table beside John
who, leaning up on one elbow,
put his skinny arm
over my bowed shoulder.


Mary McGhee Crosby teaches literature and writing at Essex County College in West Caldwell, New Jersey. She recently completed her first collection of poetry, Forces of Nature, and has work forthcoming in the Edison Literary Review. She lives in the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey with her husband John, daughter Sarah, and son John.


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