The Gory Details

She could always list them:  
dipso husband, daughter hearing 
voices, an addict son. She’d snap 
off pieces of raw carrot and shrug,
munching. “I can’t complain.
They didn’t happen all at once.”  
She’d light up. And cough. But no 
one nicer on a check-out line. Or 
dancing a tea bag in and out of hot
water. Or taking the blame each 
time her daughter screamed at the
wall. Or telling her son he was okay, 
while she breathed her last smoke 
in the day room at Astoria  Hospital.  

“I’ll spare you the gory details.”   
She looked away. Her right lung 
removed, a pink crescent scar 
around her shoulder blade she didn’t 
want to see in any mirror. The oxygen 
tube clipped to the cartilage dividing 
one nostril from another. An invisible fume 
traveling into her left life. That hover in 
the recovery room nothing but the future 
collecting—impatient, uneasy as the son 
and daughter around her bed. “You’ll 
have to get some milk before I get home.”  
A vaporous prong already descending 
into her open mouth beginning to close.
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
Contents | The Moon Receding With Explosives...