(Sandy Cove -- St. Alphonse. N.S.)

One must have taken its mouth to the light
as you'd lift up a horse's hoof, felt
in for the tongue while Albrite told over
and over how he'd found whatever
it was propped by a beach rock with tide almost
reached where feet should have been.

It was stub, hooded over, blunt carcass,
but dry, unslickened, and as he'd got closer
turned human, legs cut off trim at the knee,
stumps sewn tight, beside it
a tin box of biscuits, a can filled
with water clamped into a heelmark.

This lay on the couch where Albrite and Gidney
had brought it, watched them and slowly
became what they knew, as much in those minutes
as they'd ever know of what he had been,
done, endured, almost nothing
and silence, no more than the pain a nerve has

after what it existed to service
is severed. He ate what was given
and slept and after some weeks chose a sound
or was chosen to say if that gave them
the name which was needed to tend him,
Jerome, as they heard it, or agony

working out through to something they took,
which he let them keep. They moved him
along the French shore where he lived for fifty
eight years and spoke only twice with anyone
near to report it: one year he whispered
Trieste, as his homeland, then later

a third name, Colombo,
the ship which had judged him for innocence,
guilt. betrayed or betraying, as murderer,
victim of what he'd committed
or kept from witnessed inside
by his implicate silence and ours.

Source: Peter Sanger, "Jerome," in The American Reel, (Unknown: Pottersfield Press, 1983), 31-32.

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